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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, German

The name Westfall comes from the German region of Westphalia. The tradition of adopting hereditary surnames came to Germany after the 12th century, and the names of places where people lived were a primary source. Many local names carry the prefix "von", meaning "of" or "from". It originally indicated land ownership, and is sometimes a mark of nobility. The Westfall family originally lived in Westphalia. The original bearer of this name was born in Westphalia, but acquired the name Westfall after migrating to a different German territory. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.


The surname Westfall was first found in Westphalia and the Rhineland, where the name could be considered to make a great early contribution to the feudal society which became the backbone of early development of Europe. The name Westphalen became prominent in local affairs, and branched into many houses which played important roles in the tribal and national conflicts, as each group sought power in a constantly changing territorial profile. The oldest branch of the family can be traced to the ducal house von Billung, which dates back to 960. From very early on the family emigrated to Pomerania and Mecklenburg, and chronicles first mention the individuals Egbert Westfal of Stralsund in 1294 and Johann Westfeleke of Greifswald in 1350.

In the medieval era, many different cultural groups lived in the German states. There are thus many regional variations of German surnames from that era. Westphalians spoke Low German, which is similar to modern Dutch. Many German names carry suffixes that identify where they came from. Others have phrases attached that identify something about the original bearer. Other variations in German names resulted from the fact that medieval scribes worked without the aid of any spelling rules. The spelling variations of the name Westfall include Westphall, Westphal, Westfehling, Fehling, Westfahl, Westfeleke (Silesia), Westphalen, Westfall and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Westfall research. Another 221 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1726, 1754, 1778, 1780, 1789, 1792, 1805, 1807, 1809, 1818, 1833, 1856, and 1890 are included under the topic Early Westfall History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Notables of the period with the name Westfall were many prominent descendents of the House von Billung line. They include Clemens August Wilhelm von Westphalen (1726-1778), Privy Councellor at Hildesheim and Paderborn, his son Clemens August Wilhelm (1754-1818), Grand Prior of the St. Johann Order of Knights, who became Count of...

Another 63 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Westfall Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


For many Germans, emigration to North America was an inviting alternative to the trials of life in the old country. From the mid-17th into the present century, thousands of Germans migrated across the Atlanti c. They capitalized on the chance to escape poverty and persecution, and to own their own land. After 1650, Germans settled throughout the states of Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. Many also landed in Canada, settling in Ontario or father west on the rich land of the prairies. Among them:

Westfall Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Juriaen Westfall, who landed in New Netherland(s) in 1620-1664

Westfall Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Nicholas Westfall, aged 92, arrived in New York in 1745-1746
  • Jacob Westfall, aged 77, landed in New York in 1771
  • Jacob Westfall who went to New York in 1771
  • Friedrick Oldwick Westfall, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1792
  • John Westfall arrived in Frederick County, Maryland in 1795
  • ...

Westfall Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles Westfall went to San Diego in 1870 at the age of 39

Westfall Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Elly Westfall went to Ontario in 1825

  • Thomas D. Westfall (1927-2005), American FBI Special Agent and politician, Mayor of El Paso, Texas (1979-1981)
  • James Westfall (b. 1981), American jazz vibraphonist and guitarist
  • Gary D. Westfall (b. 1950), American experimental nuclear and high energy physicist and University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University
  • Richard S. Westfall (1924-1996), American academic, biographer and historian of science, best known for his biography of Isaac Newton
  • George "Buzz" Westfall (1944-2003), American lawyer and politician, 6th County Executive of St. Louis County (1991–2003)
  • Robert Barton "Bullet Bob" Westfall (1919-1980), American football fullback, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987
  • L. M. Westfall, American politician, Member of Minnesota State Senate 10th District, 1874-75
  • George Westfall, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Missouri, 1996
  • Daniel M. Westfall, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Washington County 1st District, 1884, 1886
  • Craig L. Westfall, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Missouri, 2008
  • ...

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: Fais que dois, arrive que pourra
Motto Translation: Do you duty, come what may.


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    Other References

    1. Steed, Henry Wickham . The Hapsburg Monarchy. London: Constable and Company, 1919. Print.
    2. Siebmacher, J.J. Siebmacher's Grosses Wappenbuch 35 Volumes. Germany: Bauer & Raspe. Print.
    3. Nied, Edmund. Fraenkische Familiennamen urkundlich gesammelt und sprachlich gedeutet. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1933. Print.
    4. Gottschald, Max. Deutsche Namenkunde unsere Familiennamen nach ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung. München: J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1932. Print.
    5. Jones, George F. The Germans of Colonial Georgia 1733-1783 Revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0806311614).
    6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    7. 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).
    8. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Journeys German Immigration, Settlement and Political Culture in Colonial America 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Print. (ISBN 978-0812215489).
    9. Bentley, Elizabeth P. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1820-1829. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999. Print.
    10. Gritzner, M. Handbuch der heraldischen Terminologie in zwölf Zungen. Nürnberg: 1890. Print.
    11. ...

    The Westfall Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Westfall 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 August 2016 at 13:38.

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