Show ContentsVan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Van was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Van family lived in East Lothian, Scotland. Their name, however, is a reference to Vaux or Vallibus, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Early Origins of the Van family

The surname Van was first found in East Lothian, where they were directly descended from the great baronial family of De Vaux, or De Vallibus, and still had a castle of this name in Normandy until the year 1080. They possessed Dalston and Gilliesland in Cumberland, and the barony of Dirletoun in East Lothian.

Early History of the Van family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Van research. Another 170 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1244, 1255, 1306, 1437, 1490, 1515, 1516, 1538 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Van History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Van Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Vance, Vans, Vaux, de Vallibus and others.

Early Notables of the Van family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Vaus or Vascus (1490?-1538?), Scottish Latinist, the earliest Scottish writer on grammar, born in Aberdeen. "He appears to have studied at Paris, and to have returned to his...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Van Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Van Ranking

In the United States, the name Van is the 4,187th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [1] However, in France, the name Van is ranked the 5,298th most popular surname with an estimated 1,000 - 1,500 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the Van family to Ireland

Some of the Van family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Van migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Van Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Bernard Van, aged 17, who arrived in Louisiana in 1719 [3]
  • Hans Jacob Van, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1752 [3]
  • Mattheis Van, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1752 [3]
Van Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Nainan Wynan Van, who landed in Mississippi in 1830 [3]

New Zealand Van 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:

  • Henry Van, aged 46, a farmer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" between 1841 and 1850
Van Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Henry Van, aged 46, a farmer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" in 1850

Contemporary Notables of the name Van (post 1700) +

  • Ya-Yue J. Van, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Washington, 1996, 2000, 2004; Member of Democratic National Committee from Washington, 2004 [4]
  • Vernon Van, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from California 37th District, 2000, 2004 [4]
  • Jan van Veen (1945-2024), Dutch radio host and disc jockey
  • Joseph Van Matre (1828-1892), United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor
  • Conny Van Dyke (1945-2023), sometimes credited as Connie Van Dyke, an American singer and actress
  • Serge Van Cottom (b. 1953), Belgian weightlifter who competed in the men's light heavyweight event at the 1980 Summer Olympics
  • Basil van Rooyen (1939-2023), South African racing driver, race car developer, inventor, and engineer
  • Bobby Van Osborne (1931-2023), American bluegrass musician and co-founder of the Osborne Brothers and a member of the Grand Ole Opry, member of the United States Marine Corps who received a Purple Heart for his service
  • Piet van Heusden (1929-2023), Dutch cyclist, Champion of the Men's Amateur Individual Pursuit World Champion (1952)
  • Jeroen van Wetten (b. 1980), Dutch former professional footballer who plays in the position of forward

HMS Dorsetshire
  • David Isak Stephanus Zyl Van (d. 1945), British Stoker 1st Class aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [5]


  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/
  2. http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  3. 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)
  4. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  5. Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html


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