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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The surname Sellen is derived from the Middle High German word "sell," which meant "traveling companion." It was most likely originally nickname, which then became a hereditary surname.


The surname Sellen was first found in Westphalia, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region, later moving to Lithuania and East Prussia. From the 13th century the surname was identified with the military and civil service, which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development and eventual unification of the German nation.

One can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames: in early times, spelling in general, and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized; and later, spellings would change with branching and movement of families. Variations of the name Sellen include Sell, Selle, Sellen, Sellers, Seller, Sellmann, Sellman and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sellen research. Another 309 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1599, 1663, 1797 and 1806 are included under the topic Early Sellen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Notables of the period with the name Sellen were Thomas Selle (1599-1663), a German baroque composer; and Baron Adolph von Sell (b.1797), who was Lord Chamberlain at the court of Mecklenburg, as well as...

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sellen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Many Germans emigrated across the Atlantic to seek better lives in North Ameri ca. This great migration began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century. Resettlement was particularly attractive to those from Westphalia as a means of escape from poverty and religious persecution. For many Westphalian farmers, the chance to own one's own land was also a major incentive. The process of the widespread colonization of the United States began in 1650, when many immigrants from Germany settled in pockets in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. In Canada, German settlements centered around Ontario and the Prairie provinces. Among them:

Sellen Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Dirick Sellen, who sailed to Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1691
  • Dirick Sellen, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1691-1692
  • Hendrick Sellen, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1691-1692

  • John H. Sellen, American founder of John H. Sellen Construction Company in 1944, now known as Sellen Construction
  • Birgitta Sellén (b. 1945), Swedish Centre Party politician, Second Vice Speaker of the Riksdag in 2006

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    Other References

    1. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    2. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    3. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
    4. Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann. Deutches Namenbuch. Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolf Bonz & Comp, 1928. Print.
    5. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
    6. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
    7. Gottschald, Max. Deutsche Namenkunde unsere Familiennamen nach ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung. München: J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1932. Print.
    8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    10. Bentley, Elizabeth P. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1820-1829. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999. Print.
    11. ...

    The Sellen Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Sellen 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 20 April 2015 at 08:08.

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