What is the origin of the last name Elder?

The last name Elder is of English and Scottish origin, derived from the Middle English word "eldre" and the Old English word "ealdor," meaning "elder" or "chief." It was originally used as a title for the head of a household or village, denoting a position of authority and respect. Over time, Elder evolved into a hereditary surname, commonly associated with individuals who held positions of leadership or were considered wise and experienced.

Countries of origin for the last name Elder

The last name ELDER is an English surname of occupational origin. It is derived from the Middle English word “eldere,” meaning “elder tree.” The elder tree holds significance in English folklore and was believed to have supernatural qualities, providing protection against evil spirits. The name likely originated as a nickname for someone who lived near an elder tree or worked with its wood or berries.

The first recorded instance of the surname ELDER dates back to the early 13th century in England. It can be found in various forms, including Eldere, Eldar, and Elder. Over time, the name spread to different parts of the British Isles and eventually migrated to other English-speaking countries.

In Scotland, the surname ELDER is also associated with the Gaelic name “Mac an t-Sagairt,” meaning “son of the priest.” This connection suggests that some individuals with the last name ELDER may have Scottish ancestry and a link to the clergy.

As with many surnames, variations in spelling have occurred over centuries due to factors such as regional accents, illiteracy, and record-keeping practices. In the case of ELDER, alternative spellings include Eldar, Eldur, Eldre, and Eldor. These variations may provide clues to geographical and historical origins or branches of the family tree.

The surname ELDER is not among the most common names in the United States, but it can be found throughout the country. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there were approximately 50,000 individuals with the last name ELDER. The highest concentration can be found in the states of Texas, California, and Ohio.

Notable individuals with the surname ELDER include former U.S. Secretary of Defense George S. Elder, American basketball player Wayne Ellington, and Scottish footballer Scott Elder. These individuals have achieved prominence in their respective fields, contributing to the diverse legacy of the ELDER name.

The study of surnames, known as onomastics or more specifically surname etymology, can provide valuable insights into family history, migration patterns, and cultural heritage. However, the specific origins and meanings of surnames are often shrouded in mystery and subject to interpretation. While we have uncovered significant facts about the ELDER name, the full story may forever elude us.

Interesting facts about the last name Elder

  • The surname Elder originated from the Old English word “ealdra” which means “older” or “elder.”
  • It is a topographic surname, meaning it originally referred to someone who lived near or by an elder tree.
  • In Scotland, the surname Elder is often associated with the Clan MacFarlane.
  • During the Middle Ages, the name Elder became a popular personal name in England, and eventually evolved into a surname.
  • The Elder surname has variant spellings including Eldar, Elders, Ellder, Elderse, Eldrr, and Eelder.
  • According to surname distribution data, the highest concentration of individuals with the Elder surname can be found in the United States, particularly in the southern states.
  • Famous individuals with the surname Elder include John Elder, a Scottish marine engineer who contributed significantly to the development of shipbuilding; and Paul Elder, an American publisher and bookseller in the early 20th century.
  • In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, is sometimes referred to as the Elder Tree, potentially adding a mythical connection to the surname.
  • Today, the Elder surname is not only found in English-speaking countries but also in various parts of the world, including Australia, Canada, and South Africa.
  • The Elder surname is believed to have originated in England around the 11th century and gradually spread to other regions through migration and colonization.

Name Rank


There are around 29796 people with the last name Elder in the US

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