German History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought many new words to England from which surnames were formed. German was one of these new Norman names. It was specifically tailored to its first bearer, who was a person of German descent, or a person who was associated with that country through trade or other means. Another derivation of the name suggests that it derives from the Old French given name Germain. This name was borne by a popular French saint from the 5th century, and also meant of the same stock, or related to.

Germanus (378?-448), was "Bishop of Auxerre, and missionary to Britain, son of noble parents whose names are given as Rusticus and Germanilla, was born at Auxerre about 378, and after attending schools in Gaul went to study at Rome. " [1]

German is a classic example of an polygenetic surname, which is a surname that was developed in a number of different locations and adopted by various families independently.

Early Origins of the German family

The surname German was first found in Essex where Jerman filius Willelmi was listed in the Feet of Fines for 1248. [2] However, Germanus was earlier listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. [3]

Early History of the German family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our German research. Another 141 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1086, 1250, 1248, 1279, 1318, 1402, 1377, 1397, 1650, 1718, 1680, 1769 and 1738 are included under the topic Early German History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

German Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled German, Germans, Jermain, Jarman and others.

Early Notables of the German family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Robert German (died 1402), English politician, Member (MP) of the Parliament of England for Nottingham from 1377 to 1397. Sir John Germain, 1st Baronet (1650-1718), was a British soldier and politician, thought to have been an illegitimate half-brother of William III of England. "His mother, who was very handsome, is stated to have been that prince's mistress, and Germain is said to have assumed 'as his seal and armorial bearing' a red cross, implying pretensions to exalted...
Another 84 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early German Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the German family to Ireland

Some of the German family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States German migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name German or a variant listed above:

German Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas German, who settled in Maryland in 1654
  • Ann German, who settled in Maryland in 1665
  • Ann German, who arrived in Maryland in 1665 [4]
  • John German, his wife Margaret and their two daughters, who were on record in Pennsylvania in 1683
German Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jacob German, who landed in New York in 1709 [4]
  • Benedict German, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1732
  • Benedict German, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1732 [4]
  • Christian German, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1732 [4]
  • Benedict German, who settled in Philadelphia in 1732
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
German Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Anthony German, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1803 [4]
  • William German, aged 40, who arrived in New York in 1812 [4]
  • Michael German, who landed in New York in 1817 [4]
  • Patrick German, who arrived in New York in 1817 [4]
  • Edward German, who landed in New York in 1817 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada German migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

German Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John German, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. Christopher German U.E. who settled in Adolphus Town [Adolphustown], Ontario c. 1784 [5]
  • Mr. Christopher German U.E., "Christian" who settled in Adolphus Town [Adolphustown], Ontario c. 1784 son of John Sr. German he received land next to a Christopher German of no relation [5]
  • Mr. Jacob German U.E. who settled in Adolphus Town [Adolphustown], Ontario c. 1784 son of John Sr. German [5]
  • Mr. John German Sr., U.E. who settled in Adolphus Town [Adolphustown], Ontario c. 1784 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
German Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Allice E. German, who settled in Ontario in 1861
  • Ilko German, who landed in Manitoba in 1898
  • Ivan German, who arrived in Manitoba in 1899

Australia German migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

German Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Elijah German, English convict who was convicted in Cambridgeshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Barossa" on 9th May 1844, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Hannah German, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Marion" [7]

New Zealand German migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

German Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James German, aged 28, a farm labourer, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Renfrewshire" in 1878
  • Mary A. German, aged 27, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Renfrewshire" in 1878
  • Albert E. German, aged 7, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Renfrewshire" in 1878
  • Mary G. German, aged 3, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Renfrewshire" in 1878
  • Annie German, aged 1, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Renfrewshire" in 1878
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name German (post 1700) +

  • Robert John German (b. 1978), American singer, guitarist, and songwriter
  • Lauren Christine German (b. 1978), American actress, known for her role as Agent Lori Weston in the television series Hawaii Five-0
  • Sir Edward German (1862-1936), English musician and composer, best known for his incidental music and his English comic opera
  • Sir Ronald German, English company director from Sussex, and the Reverend Canon Cyril Jarman of Chester Cathedral
  • Lindsey German, English activist
  • Aleksei Yuryevich German (1938-2013), Soviet and Russian filmmaker
  • Michael German (b. 1945), Welsh leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and Member of the Welsh Assembly
  • Anna German (1936-1982), Polish-Russian singer
  • Thomas German Reed (1817-1888), English musician, son of Thomas Reed, a musician, born at Bristol
  • Frederick German Detweiler (1881-1960), American sociologist and race relations expert, best known for his book The Negro Press in the United States (1922)

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Samuel Henry German, English Assistant Pantry Steward from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [8]


Suggested Readings for the name German +

  • 1474 The Family of Johannes Germann (John Garman) in America: A Genealogical History by Leo H. Garman, Nicholas German Family: Westward from New York, 1779-1978 by Leo and Rozetta Guess.

  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barossa
  7. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 12th December 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Marion 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/marion1854.shtml
  8. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 10) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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