What is the origin of the last name Jefferson?

The last name Jefferson originates from the Middle English personal name "Jeffrey," derived from the Old French name "Geoffroi," itself a variant of the Germanic "Godfrey." In turn, "Geoffroi" can be traced back to the combination of the Germanic elements "god," meaning "god," and "frid," meaning "peace." The last name "Jefferson" therefore signifies a "peaceful leader" or "divine peace," reflecting the ancestral aspirations for harmony and leadership in the Middle Ages.

Countries of origin for the last name Jefferson

The last name Jefferson has a rich and diverse history, with roots that can be traced back to different regions and periods of time. Exploring the meaning and origins of this surname reveals intriguing insights into the individuals and families who have carried it throughout generations.

The surname Jefferson is an English patronymic name derived from the given name Jeffrey. It signifies “son of Jeffrey,” with “Jeffrey” being of Germanic origin, specifically derived from the Old German “Godd” meaning “god” and “frid” or “fred” meaning “peace.” The combination of these elements suggests that the name Jefferson may have conveyed the meaning of “peaceful god” or “devoted to God” in its earliest usage.

Historical records indicate that the Jefferson name has been linked to various geographic regions, including England, Scotland, and the United States. In England, the name gained prominence in the 13th century, specifically in the counties of Yorkshire, Norfolk, and Cornwall. Scottish records show Jeffersons appearing in areas such as Glasgow, Fife, and Aberdeenshire.

Interestingly, the surname Jefferson became more widely recognized after it was bestowed upon a notable historical figure in the United States. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States who played a crucial role in the country’s early development, was born into a family carrying this surname. Thomas Jefferson’s legacy has undoubtedly contributed to the popularity and recognition of the name in America.

While the surname Jefferson undoubtedly carries significant historical weight, it is also important to acknowledge that names can change and adapt over time. Variations of the Jefferson surname have emerged, adding further layers to its etymology. Some variations include Jefferyson, Jeffrieson, Jephson, and Jepson. These alternative spellings reflect the fluidity and evolution of names, highlighting the complexity of tracing genealogical roots.

Understanding the meaning and origins of the last name Jefferson provides a glimpse into the diverse narratives of the individuals and families who bear this surname. From its Germanic roots to its connections with notable historical figures, the Jefferson name weaves together a tapestry of history and identity. While our knowledge of this name is far from exhaustive, it is evident that the etymology of Jefferson invites further exploration and discovery, both in terms of individual family histories and the broader context of surname study.

Interesting facts about the last name Jefferson

  • The surname Jefferson is of patronymic origin, meaning it is derived from a male ancestor’s name. In this case, it is derived from the given name “Jeffrey”, which ultimately comes from the Norman-French name “Godfrey”.
  • The name Jefferson is predominantly an English surname, although it can also be found in other English-speaking countries such as the United States and Canada.
  • The Jefferson surname is often associated with Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The name gained popularity in the United States during the 19th century, likely influenced by the popularity and admiration of Thomas Jefferson.
  • According to the 2010 United States Census, Jefferson was the 170th most common surname in the country, with an estimated 111,486 individuals carrying the name.
  • Jefferson is also a place name, with several towns and cities across the United States named after Thomas Jefferson, such as Jefferson City, Missouri, and Jeffersonville, Indiana.
  • In African-American genealogy, the surname Jefferson can be traced back to enslaved individuals who were known by the surnames of their owners. As a result, many African Americans carry the surname Jefferson today.

Name Rank


There are around 55179 people with the last name Jefferson in the US

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