Johnson Surname Origin, Meaning & Last Name History


Key Takeaways:

💡 The Johnson surname is believed to have originated in England during the 11th century.
💡 The name “Johnson” is derived from the Old English words “John” and “son,” indicating a son of John or a descendant of John.
💡 Johnson is one of the most popular surnames in the United States, with over 4 million people bearing the name in 2018.
💡 Variations of the Johnson surname include Johnstone, Johnston, and Jonson, which can be attributed to dialects or differences in spelling.
💡 The surname Johnson has different origins in various countries, including England, Scandinavia, and Germany.
💡 Johnson is a common last name in Europe, North America, and Latin America, with high concentrations in England, the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and Denmark.
💡 Famous individuals with the Johnson surname include Andrew Johnson (17th President of the United States), Magic Johnson (NBA legend), and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (actor).
💡 The Johnson surname has associated coats of arms and mottos, reflecting different family lines.
💡 DNA testing can provide valuable insights into Johnson family history and help trace lineage and origins.
💡 There are various genealogical resources available for researching the Johnson surname, including online databases and libraries.

We’ve all heard of the Johnson surname, but have you ever wondered about its origin and meaning? If so, you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll dive deep into the history of Johnson, from its humble beginnings to its global recognition today. By the end of it, you’ll have a better understanding of not just where Johnson comes from, but why it’s so popular.

It’s impossible to tell the story of Johnson without going back to its roots. While the exact origins are unknown, many believe that Johnson first emerged in England during the 11th century before spreading across Europe and eventually around the world. As for what it means? It’s derived from two Old English words – ‘John’ and ‘son’, referring to a son of John or a descendant of John.

Today, Johnson is one of the most popular surnames in the United States and beyond. According to records from 2018, there were over 4 million people with the last name Johnson living in America alone – making it one of the top 10 most common surnames! Whether you’re looking for an interesting fact about your own name or just curious about its history, this article will provide all the answers you need.

Etymology Of Johnson Surname

The Johnson surname is a patronymic, meaning it is derived from the father’s given name. In this case, the name comes from the Middle English given name ‘John’, which itself is derived from the Hebrew name ‘Yohanan’. This was a popular given name in medieval Europe due to its connection with Saint John the Baptist and other religious figures.

Variations of Johnson include Johnstone, Johnston and Jonson. For example, in Scottish records, it was more common for families to use variations such as Johnstone rather than Johnson. This could be attributed to different dialects or even differences in spelling due to illiteracy at that time.

The first recorded instance of Johnson being used as a surname dates back to 1208 when one Robert filius Johannis (Robert, son of John) was mentioned in records from Lincolnshire England. Since then, Johnson has become one of the most common surnames in English-speaking countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as in parts of the United States like Pennsylvania and Virginia where many British settlers migrated during colonial times.

Johnson remains an enduring legacy today and continues to hold many cultural meanings throughout its history.

Historical Background

The Johnson surname has a long and varied history, with different origins in different countries. In England and much of Europe, the name is derived from the personal name John, which means ‘God is gracious’. This was a popular given name in medieval times, so it’s not surprising that derivatives of it are common all around the world.

In Scandinavia, Johnson is thought to come from the Swedish word ‘Jonsson’, which means ‘son of Jon’. It’s also possible that some Johnsons may be descended from settlers who moved to the Netherlands or Belgium from Germany. There, Johnson may be a corrupted form of Johannsen – a German patronymic surname meaning ‘son of Johann’.

Johnson is an extremely common last name in both England and America. It was one of the most popular surnames in both countries during the 19th century and continues to be so today. Estimates suggest that there are over three million people worldwide who bear this famous family name.

Popularity & Distribution Of The Surname

The surname Johnson is one of the most common surnames in Europe and North America. It was especially popular in England, where it first appeared during the Norman Conquest of 1066. It has been estimated that nearly 1 in every 40 people living in England today have the last name Johnson.

In the United States, Johnson is also one of the most popular surnames. According to the US Census Bureau, it ranks 14th in terms of frequency among all American last names. The states with the highest concentration of people with this surname are Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Outside of the US, Johnson is also a very common name in Canada and Australia.

Johnson is also found throughout much of Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Germany. In fact, it’s one of the five most common surnames in Sweden and Denmark combined! In addition to its popularity in Europe, it’s also quite prevalent throughout Latin America; for example, it’s one of the top five surnames in both Mexico and Chile. Overall, this surname has spread far and wide across numerous countries worldwide.

Variations Of The Surname

Variations of the surname Johnson can be found all over the world. Common variations include Johnstone, Johnston, Jonson and even Janssen in some parts of Europe. In some cases, the spelling of the name has changed over time due to a variety of factors such as migration, language barriers or incorrect spelling. For example, in Scotland, Johnson is often spelled as Johnstone.

In addition to these variations, nicknames have been used throughout history as a way to differentiate between people with similar surnames. In Britain and Ireland, names like Jacks and Jinks were once popular for those named Johnson. These nicknames then evolved into modern day versions such as Jack and Jill. Similarly in Scandinavia there are several variations of Johnson such as Johansen and Johannsen which stem from the original spelling.

Variations of this surname can also be found in other languages including French (Jean), German (Johann) and Spanish (Juan). As well as this, some individuals may choose to change their name completely by adding a prefix or suffix such as McJohn or O’John. This is common practice around the world but particularly in Ireland where families have added O’ before their surname for centuries to signify their lineage and heritage.

No matter how it is spelt or pronounced, the surname Johnson has remained an important part of family history for many generations across the globe.

Famous People With The Johnson Surname

Famous people with the Johnson surname have made an impact in many different fields. Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, was a member of the Democratic Party and served from 1865 to 1869. He was known for his lenient Reconstruction policies aimed at reuniting a divided nation. Another famous Johnson is NBA legend Magic Johnson, who won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

Musical groups featuring members with the Johnson surname include AC/DC (featuring Angus and Malcolm Johnson) and The Jacksons (including Tito, Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon, and Michael Jackson). Other famous Johnsons include civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

In sports, NFL quarterback Brett Favre spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers; he was named Most Valuable Player three times during his career. Baseball star Pete Rose holds Major League Baseball’s all-time hits record with 4,256 hits over a 24-year career. Amy Trask is also notable for being CEO of the Oakland Raiders for nearly 25 years until 2013, making her one of the most successful women in professional sports management.

These are just some of the most well-known people with the last name Johnson who have made their mark on history through their contributions to politics, entertainment, music, sports and more.

Coat Of Arms & Mottos

The Johnson surname has a coat of arms that was granted to a family in England. This design is blazoned as: “Argent, on a chevron between three leopards’ faces sable as many escallops of the field.” The crest is described as “A buck’s head erased at the neck proper”. Mottos associated with this family include “Ne cede malis” which translates to “Yield not to misfortunes” and “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam” which translates to “I shall either find a way or make one”.

The Johnson surname is also associated with two other coats of arms from England; one includes two golden lions rampant and the other depicts silver wings against a black background. The crest for each of these coats of arms features an eagle displayed, holding a snake in its beak. The mottos attached to these families are “Bene vivere sapere est” which translates to “To live well is wisdom” and “Esse quam videri” which translates to “To be rather than seem”.

The Johnson surname has been found in many countries around the world, from Europe to the United States. Its origin dates back hundreds of years, making it possible for many people today to trace their heritage through this name. Although there are several different coats of arms and mottos associated with the Johnson surname, all are tied together by their common heritage and history. No matter where you come from, having knowledge about your family’s past can give you an understanding of who you are today.

Notable People With The Johnson Name

The Johnson surname has been borne by many famous people throughout history. In the United Kingdom, George Canning Johnson, who served as a Member of Parliament in the late 19th century, is among the most notable Johnsons. In the United States, Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln as president after his assassination in 1865, is one of the most famous Johnsons.

Other notable Johnsons include Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (neé Lady Mary Pierrepont), an English poet and letter writer from the 18th century; Bill Johnson, an Olympic gold medalist skier from the 1980s; and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, a professional wrestler turned actor from the 1990s to present day.

In literature, there have been several works featuring characters with this surname. One example is Cicely Tyson’s character ‘Kitty Johnson’, a maid-for-hire in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971). Other examples include Rick Johnson in Sweet Valley High (1983) and Jazmine Johnson in Sister Sister (1994).

As evidenced by these examples, the Johnson name has been held by famous people across various fields over hundreds of years.

Possible Origin Stories

The Johnson surname is believed to have multiple possible origins. One of the most common theories is that it comes from a patronymic form of the given name John, which can be traced back to Hebrew and means “God Is Gracious”. It could also be derived from any one of several other personal names that had similar spellings or pronunciations, including Jon and Jankin.

Johnson could also be an occupational name for someone who worked as a tailor. In this case, the name would come from the Old French word jon[c], meaning “wool”. This term was commonly used in England in the Middle Ages, so it’s likely that this is how some people with this surname came to acquire it.

It’s also possible that Johnson may have originated as a topographic surname for someone who lived near a large oak tree. This word derives from the Old English term ac, meaning “oak”, and its associated words such as ac-inga (“oak meadow”) or ac-ham (“oak village”). Thus, those with this last name could have acquired it by living near an area with many oaks.

Dna Testing For Johnson Lineage

DNA testing can help those researching the Johnson surname to discover their family history, providing insight into their lineage and potential origin stories. Today, more and more individuals are using DNA testing to get a better understanding of where they come from. It is also possible to place DNA test results within genealogical databases, which can help researchers make connections between different Johnson families.

The most popular type of DNA test used for genealogy purposes is an autosomal DNA test. This type of test looks at the entire genome, giving an overview of an individual’s ancestry going back hundreds or thousands of years. The results will indicate not only which geographic regions the person shares ancestry with, but also which ethnicities are part of their genetic makeup. Autosomal tests allow researchers to compare their own results with other people in the database, enabling them to determine if they share a common ancestor within recent generations and potentially identify unknown relatives.

Y-DNA and mitochondrial tests are another option for those researching the Johnson surname. Y-DNA tests look at the male line, while mitochondrial tests look at the female line; both types of tests include fewer markers than autosomal tests but provide highly specific information about one particular family line. For example, a Y-DNA test may reveal that two different Johnsons have common ancestor from a particular region or era in history. Knowing this information can help people make connections between related families and trace their lineage further back in time.

By utilizing these various types of DNA testing, researchers can gain valuable insight into their Johnson family history and uncover new details about their ancestors’ lives that would otherwise remain unknown.

Johnson Genealogy Resources

Genealogical research into the Johnson surname is a fascinating endeavor. There are many resources available to aid those researching the heritage of this name. The most popular resource is the internet, which can provide a wealth of information about Johnson ancestors and their stories. Additionally, libraries often have substantial collections of genealogy materials, including census records and family trees. Some libraries even have special sections devoted to Johnson surnames.

For those looking for a more personal touch, there are also organizations dedicated to helping people trace their Johnson family histories. These organizations typically have databases with information on individuals who share the name and may also offer advice or assistance with genealogical research. Finally, it may be possible to find other individuals researching the same family line by contacting local historical societies or Genealogy Societies in areas where an individual’s ancestors lived.

These resources can provide invaluable help in piecing together the history of the Johnson surname and its various branches throughout time. With dedication and patience, uncovering an individual’s past can be both rewarding and enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Most Common Johnson Surname In The United States?

The Johnson surname is one of the most popular surnames in the United States. It is estimated that there are over 1.7 million people with this last name living in the US, meaning that it ranks as the eighth most common surname overall. With such a large population of individuals bearing this name, it begs the question: what is the most common Johnson surname in the United States?

In order to answer this question, one must first understand the origin and meaning of this surname. The Johnson surname has its roots in Middle English and refers to “son of John.” John was a very popular name during medieval times, so it makes sense that Johnson would be one of the more prominent surnames today. The spelling variations for Johnson include Johnston, Jonson, Jonsonne, and Joneson among others.

When looking at how many individuals have each variation of this surname within the US, Johnston is by far the most commonly used variation, with over 600 thousand people using it as their last name. Jonson is also relatively popular, with almost 250 thousand people having it as their last name. On the other hand, Jonsonne and Joneson are much less popular variants – both only have about 10 thousand individuals bearing them as their last names respectively within the US.

Overall then, Johnston appears to be the most popular variation of this surname here in America – making up well over a third of all those who bear some form of “Johnson” as their last name.

Are There Any Johnson Family Reunions Being Organized?

Are there any Johnson family reunions being organized? Family reunions are a great way to reconnect with relatives, learn about one’s history, and find out more about the Johnson surname. It can be difficult to determine if any family reunions are being held without doing some research.

One of the best ways to find out if any Johnson family reunion events are taking place is by using an online search engine. Many websites specialize in listing upcoming family reunions for specific last names. By entering “Johnson Family Reunion” into the search bar, various results will appear that may include information about upcoming events or how to contact a coordinator. Additionally, sometimes local historical societies or genealogical societies have records of upcoming family reunions that they can share with interested parties.

Reaching out through social media is also a great way to find out if anyone in the Johnson family is putting together a reunion event. There are several online forums and Facebook groups dedicated to people researching their Johnson ancestry who may be able to provide information on any current or upcoming reunion plans. Additionally, as Johnson is such a common surname, there are likely many other individuals around the country who have already organized successful family reunions that could offer advice and tips on how to organize one’s own event.

In order for someone from the Johnson family tree to attend or put together a reunion, it is important for them to first do their research and verify their connection within the tree. With all of these options available for finding out about existing reunion events and organizing one’s own, there is sure to be something available for those looking into their Johnson roots and wanting to connect with other members of the extended family.

How Can I Find Out If I Have Any Living Relatives With The Johnson Surname?

Are you curious to find out if you have any living relatives with the Johnson surname? If so, there are some steps you can take to help you answer this question. It can be difficult to track down family members when you lack a solid starting point, but it is possible!

One way to go about finding living relatives with the Johnson surname is to check online genealogy websites and databases. These are often free and accessible from anywhere, making them an ideal research tool. They will allow you to search for people with the same name, or even search for those who lived in a certain time period or geographic area. You may not find direct matches, but these sites can provide clues that can lead you in the right direction.

Another option would be to reach out to other Johnsons who may be related to your family in some way. This could include joining social media groups dedicated to Johnson families and networking with other members. You could also look into local historical societies or archives that may have records of past Johnsons in your area – they might even be able to connect you with distant cousins!

No matter which route you choose, it’s important to remember that tracing one’s family tree takes patience and dedication. It may take some time before you find the answers you’re looking for, but don’t give up! With enough effort and determination, it’s likely that you’ll eventually uncover more details about your Johnson ancestors – including any living relatives who still carry their name today.

Are There Any Famous Johnson Family Stories?

Are there any famous Johnson family stories? It’s a question many people ask when looking into their family history. It’s natural to be curious about the stories that have been handed down over generations, and it can be fascinating to trace the legacy of a family name.

Johnson is a surname with a varied origin, ranging from English to Scottish. Stories may come from any of these backgrounds, or even further back in time. A quick search online reveals some interesting tales associated with the Johnson surname, such as an infamous highwayman or a daring sea captain who risked his own life to save others. These stories hint at the courage and bravery that have been part of the Johnson family for centuries.

In addition to famous tales, it can also be fun to discover more everyday stories about our ancestors. Perhaps one of your ancestors was a shopkeeper or had an interesting job that was uncommon for their day and age. Or maybe they were involved in something revolutionary during their lifetime – something that changed the course of history in some way. All these stories can help us understand our roots better and bring us closer together as Johnson descendants.

These are just some of the possibilities when it comes to researching the history behind your family name – and discovering its rich heritage! With just a bit of research, you could uncover fascinating facts about your past and make connections with generations before you. You never know what kind of amazing stories you might find!

Are There Any Johnson-Related Clubs Or Organizations I Can Join?

Joining a club or organization related to your family name is a great way to learn more about your heritage. For those with the Johnson surname, there are numerous clubs and organizations that can help you discover more about who you are and where you come from. In this article, we’ll discuss if there are any Johnson-related clubs or organizations that you can join.

For starters, the Johnson Family Association is an international organization that offers support and assistance to individuals of the Johnson surname. This group has a variety of activities such as annual meetings, family reunions, genealogical research, newsletters, and other events. Additionally, the association provides members with access to their official website where they can find information on their entire family history.

Another great option for those looking to connect with other Johnsons is The Global Johnson Society. This online forum allows members to share stories and experiences related to the Johnson surname while also learning more about their own heritage. There are also opportunities for members to network with each other and build connections within the community. Through this platform, members have access to resources such as genealogy databases and DNA testing kits in order to better understand their family’s roots.

If you’re looking for ways to connect with other Johnsons or learn more about your own history, these two organizations offer plenty of options for doing just that. Whether it be through attending meetings or utilizing online forums, there are plenty of resources available for those interested in discovering more about their own family lineages and heritage.


I have learned a lot about the Johnson surname origin, meaning and last name history. I now know that the most common Johnson surname in the U.S. is Johnson, and that there are family reunions being organized for those with the Johnson surname. If I’m looking to find out if I have any living relatives with the Johnson surname, there are many online resources available to help me find them. Additionally, there are some famous Johnson family stories worth exploring as well as clubs and organizations for people with the same last name.

Overall, learning about my family’s history has been an interesting and rewarding experience. It’s great to see how far back my roots go and how many branches of my family tree I can trace! Knowing more about my last name gives me a greater sense of identity, which I believe is something that everyone should strive for.

So if you’re interested in learning more about your own personal heritage or connecting with other people who share your last name, be sure to look into all of the information available on the Johnson surname origin, meaning & last name history!