Show ContentsWestphalen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Nestled between the Rhine and Wesser rivers is the ancient German region of Westphalia. Westphalia, the home of the name Westphalen. When hereditary surnames were adopted in this region, after the 12th century, names that were derived from localities were quite common. These "local" surnames originally denoted the proprietorship of the village or estate. When coupled with the German preposition von, which means from or of, local names can indicate that the initial bearer of the name was an aristocrat. However, in modern times, the use of the preposition has often long since been dropped from use. The Westphalen family originally lived in Westphalia. The original bearer of this name was born in Westphalia, but acquired the name Westphalen 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.

Early Origins of the Westphalen family

The surname Westphalen 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.

Early History of the Westphalen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Westphalen research. Another 219 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1531, 1532, 1602, 1726, 1754, 1778, 1780, 1789, 1792, 1805, 1807, 1809, 1818, 1833, 1856 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Westphalen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Westphalen Spelling Variations

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 Westphalen include Westphall, Westphal, Westfehling, Fehling, Westfahl, Westfeleke (Silesia), Westphalen, Westfall, Westfalen and many more.

Early Notables of the Westphalen family

Notables of the period with the name Westphalen 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 (...
  • Otto von Westphalen (1807-1856), Lord Chamberlain at the courts of Prussia, became Ambassador and Minister to the Swedish and Norwegian courts. Karl Friedrich Westphall (1833-1890) was an influential...

United States Westphalen migration to the United States +

Many Germans emigrated across the Atlantic to seek better lives in North America. 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:

Westphalen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Christian Westphalen, who settled in Philadelphia in 1795
Westphalen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edgar V Westphalen, aged 27, who landed in Galveston, Tex in 1847 aboard the ship "Chas. N. Cooper" 1

The Westphalen Motto +

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.

  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) on Facebook