What is the origin of the last name Spence?

The last name Spence is of English and Scottish origin, derived from the medieval personal name "Spense" or "Spenser," which itself comes from the Old French word "espenser," meaning "to dispense" or "to distribute." Originally a job title, it referred to someone who was responsible for provisioning and distributing food in a noble household. Over time, the name evolved into a hereditary surname, becoming widespread across England and Scotland. Today, individuals with the surname Spence can be found in various parts of the world due to migration and global dispersion.

Countries of origin for the last name Spence

Spence is a last name that has its origins in Scotland. It is derived from the Middle English word “spenser,” which means “provisioner” or “butler.” As such, it was originally an occupational name, referring to someone who was in charge of providing supplies, particularly for the royal or noble household.

The spelling variations of the surname include Spenser, Spencer, and Spens. The name Spence is relatively common, ranking as the 1,871st most common surname in the United States.

In terms of geographical distribution, the name Spence is most prevalent in the United States, particularly in states like Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas. It can also be found in notable numbers in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

One notable individual with the last name Spence is J. Michael Spence, an American economist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 for his analysis of markets with asymmetric information. However, it is important to note that not every individual with the surname Spence is necessarily related or connected to this eminent economist.

Etymologically, the last name Spence has an interesting meaning, as it emphasizes the role of a provider or caretaker. This implies that those bearing the name may have had ancestors who held important household positions, responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the domestic affairs of their employers. As such, the name Spence carries a sense of responsibility and dependability.

In conclusion, the last name Spence has a rich history linked to Scotland, with origins in an occupational role. Its meaning highlights the idea of provision and caretaking, reflecting the importance of the individuals who held such positions in the past. While there are notable individuals with the surname Spence, it is important to remember that the name is not exclusive to any specific family or individual. The significance of the name Spence lies in its connection to a particular time and place in history, symbolizing a role of duty and service.

Interesting facts about the last name Spence

  • The surname Spence is of Scottish origin.
  • Derived from the Middle English word “spense,” it means “storeroom” or “supply.” It likely started as an occupational name for someone who worked in a pantry or storehouse.
  • The spelling variations of the surname include Spense, Spens, and Spenser.
  • Spence is a relatively common surname in Scotland and can be traced back to the medieval times.
  • Notable individuals with the surname Spence include British politician and Cabinet Minister Peter Spence and American physicist and Nobel laureate Joseph Silk.
  • The Spence Clan has a motto: “For All Time, Praise.”
  • According to available records, Spence is more commonly found in Northern Ireland and the eastern parts of Scotland.
  • The name Spence can also be found in other English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, often due to immigration from Scotland.
  • There are several places in the world named Spence, including Spence Bay in Canada and Spenceville in California, USA.

Name Rank


There are around 36129 people with the last name Spence in the US

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