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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The German state of Prussia, which reached the zenith of its power in the late 19th century, is the glorious birthplace of the distinguished surname Merck. In the medieval era, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the German lands were inhabited by a variety of barbarian tribes. The borders of the barbarian kingdoms changed frequently, but the region that became known in Prussia was roughly divided between the areas of Brandenburg-Prussia, West Prussia, and East Prussia. The colorful history of Brandenburg-Prussia, provides a glimpse at the oldest origins of the Merck family.


The surname Merck was first found in Prussia, where this family name became a prominent contributor to the development of the district from ancient times. Always prominent in social affairs, the name became an integral part of that turbulent region as it emerged to form alliances with other families within the feudal system.

Many cultural groups lived in the German states in medieval times. Each had its own dialect and traditions, and unique variations of popular names. Low German, which is similar to contemporary Dutch, was spoken in Westphalia. German names are characterized by additions such as regional suffixes and phrases that tell something about the origin or background of its original bearer. Further contributing to the variation in German names was the fact that there were no spelling rules in medieval times: scribes recorded names according to their sound. The recorded spelling variations of Merck include Mark, Marck, Marcker, Marckert, Marquart, Marquard, Marque, Markert, Marker, Marcart, Marcard, Marquart, Marquard and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Merck research. Another 405 words (29 lines of text) covering the years 1786, 1361, 1819, 1724, 1807, 1409, 1397, 1400, 1397, 1397, 1398, 1399, 1400, 1408, 1559 and 1485 are included under the topic Early Merck History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent bearers of the family name Merck during this time period were Thomas Merke (Merks) (died 1409), an English priest and Bishop of Carlisle (1397-1400), Educated at Oxford University, be became a Benedictine monk at Westminster Abbey, consecrated bishop about 1397, served Richard II as ambassador to various German princes in...

Another 121 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Merck Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


The state of Prussia was a great influence on the shape of modern Germany. After the Second World War, Prussia's land was divided among the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany and West Germany and the state was abolished. Some Prussians remained in those countries after the war, while many others migrated to North America in search of a new start. Philadelphia was their primary point of entry to the United States, after which many of them moved on to Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, New York, and Maryland. A large number of Prussians also migrated to Ontario and the prairie provinces as United Empire Loyalists. Analysis of immigration records has shown some of the first Mercks to arrive in North America, and among them were:

Merck Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Hans Conrad Merck, aged 5, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1735
  • Hendryk Merck, aged 19, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1735
  • Killian Merck, aged 16, landed in Pennsylvania in 1735
  • John Henry Merck, who arrived in New York, NY in 1750

  • George W. Merck (1894-1957), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Jersey, 1948; Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Vermont, 1956
  • Friedricke Merck, American Democrat politician, Artist; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 2004, 2008
  • Heinrich Emanuel Merck (1794-1855), German apothecary whose descendants are the founders of Merck and Company
  • Johann Heinrich Merck (1741-1791), German author and critic
  • Freiherr Ernst Merck (1811-1863), German businessman and politician
  • George Wilhelm Herman Emanuel Merck (1894-1957), German president of Merck & Co. from 1925 to 1950
  • William Rudolph Henry Merck (1852-1925), served as the British Chief Commissioner of the North-West Frontier Province of British India from 1909 to 1910

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fortitudine et fidelitate
Motto Translation: By fortitude and fidelity.


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    Other References

    1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    2. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    3. Neubecker, Ottfried. Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz. Battenberg, München: 1985. Print.
    4. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
    5. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Hopeful Journeys German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Print. (ISBN 978-0812215489).
    6. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
    7. Siebmacher, J.J. Siebmacher's Grosses Wappenbuch 35 Volumes. Germany: Bauer & Raspe. Print.
    8. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    10. Gottschald, Max. Deutsche Namenkunde unsere Familiennamen nach ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung. München: J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1932. Print.
    11. ...

    The Merck Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Merck Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 30 June 2016 at 21:53.

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