Ritter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Ritter surname is derived from the Middle High German word "rîter," which means "horseback rider" or "knight." It is thus likely that the first people to adopt this as a surname were either knights or descendants of knights.

Early Origins of the Ritter family

The surname Ritter was first found in Austria, 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 and the nation.

Early History of the Ritter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ritter research. Another 232 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1663, 1262, 1588, 1616, 1759, 1812, 1737, 1645, 1725, 1791, 1869, 1779, 1859, 1833, 1896, 1849 and 1926 are included under the topic Early Ritter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ritter Spelling Variations

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 Ritter include Ritter, Ritther, Rytter, Ryther, Ridder, Rider, Rhitter and many more.

Early Notables of the Ritter family (pre 1700)

During this period prominent bearers of the name Ritter were Christian Ritter (c. 1645-1725?), German composer and organist of the North German organ school; Heinrich Ritter (1791-1869), who was a German historian of philosophy born in Zerbst. He taught at Goettingen for thirty years. Karl...
Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ritter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Ritter migration to the United States +

After the First World War, Austria became a republic. The Treaty of Versailles broke up the empire in 1919 and many of the Sudeten Germans were incorporated into the new nation of Czechoslovakia. In the 20th century, many Austrians migrated to other parts of Germany or Europe, as well as to North America. In the United States, the majority of settlers landed in Philadelphia, and moved on to Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, New York, and Maryland. Many German settlers also migrated to Canada, particularly Ontario and the Prairies. Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Ritter were

Ritter Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hans Ritter, who sailed to Philadelphia in 1731
  • Christopher Ritter, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1731 [1]
  • Crates Ritter, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1731 [1]
  • Hans Ritter, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1731 [1]
  • Adam Ritter, aged 27, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1738 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Ritter Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Johan Conrad Ritter moved to Philadelphia in 1802
  • Fredk Ritter, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1805 [1]
  • Daniel Ritter, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1807 [1]
  • Emilie Ritter, who landed in North America in 1832-1849 [1]
  • Ernst Ritter, who arrived in North America in 1832-1849 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Ritter Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Helene Ritter, aged 48, who landed in Chile in 1901 [1]

Canada Ritter migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Ritter Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Sperons Ritter U.E., (Hyronimus, Riter) who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]

New Zealand Ritter 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:

Ritter Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Eliza A. Ritter, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Conflict" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Ritter (post 1700) +

  • Willis W. III Ritter, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1996 [3]
  • William F. Ritter, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for Pennsylvania State Senate 4th District, 1910 [3]
  • William Ritter Jr. (b. 1956), American Democrat politician, Governor of Colorado, 2007-11; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Colorado, 2008 [3]
  • William Ritter, American politician, Socialist Labor Candidate for Presidential Elector for Virginia, 1972 [3]
  • Walter E. Ritter, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1924 [3]
  • Victor M. Ritter, American politician, Mayor of Herrin, Illinois, 2007 [3]
  • Victor H. Ritter, American politician, Mayor of Du Quoin, Illinois, 1949-53 [3]
  • Tom Ritter, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan 6th District, 1984 [3]
  • Thomas D. Ritter, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut, 1996 [3]
  • Stacy Joy Ritter (b. 1960), American Democrat politician, Member of Florida State House of Representatives 96th District, 1997-; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Florida, 2000, 2004, 2008 [3]
  • ... (Another 43 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Bismarck
  • Hans-Joachim Ritter (1918-1941), German Leutnant zur See who served aboard the German Battleship Bismarck during World War II when it was sunk heading to France; he died in the sinking [4]
  • Erich Ritter (1922-1941), German Matrose who served aboard the German Battleship Bismarck during World War II when it was sunk heading to France; he died in the sinking [4]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 30) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  4. ^ Bismarck & Tirpitz Class - Crew List Bismarck. (Retrieved 2018, February 06). Retrieved from https://www.bismarck-class.dk/bismarck/crew/bismarck_crew.html#crew_details


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