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Li Family History

Li Name Meaning
Chinese : from a character meaning ‘minister’. This was part of the title of Gao Yao, a great-grandson of the legendary emperor Zhuan Xu, who became famous as a minister under the model emperors Yao and Shun in the 23rd century bc; he was the first to introduce laws for the repression of crime. His descendants adopted this part of his title as their surname. The use of this name continued for over a millennium to the twelfth century bc, down to the rule of the last king of the Shang dynasty, the despotic Zhou Xin. Li Zhi, the head of the Li clan at that time, displeased Zhou Xin and was executed, leaving the rest of the clan facing imminent disaster. They fled, and nearly starved to death, surviving only by eating a fruit called mu zi. When the characters for mu and zi are combined, they form the character for plum, pronounced Li. In token of this salvation, the clan changed their name to the current character for li ‘plum’. Li is now the most common surname in China. Among the many famous bearers are Lee Kwan Yew, prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990; Lee Teng-hui, president of Taiwan from 1988; Li Peng, prime minister of China from 1988; and Bruce Lee (1941–73), movie actor.Chinese : from the name of a state of Li (in present-day Shanxi province), which existed during the Shang dynasty (1766–1122 bc). Descendants of the state’s rulers adopted the name of the state as their surname.Chinese : this character for Li is an altered form of 1 above.Norwegian: habitational name from any of numerous farmsteads named Li, from Old Norse hlíð ‘mountain slope’, ‘hillside’.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

249,429 Historical Documents with Li on Ancestry.com
45,650 Birth, Marriage, and Deaths
68,408 Military Records
61,087 Immigration Records
48,629 Census and Voter Lists
25,655 Member Trees

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Name Distribution of Li Families

  • Number of Li families
     7 - 12
     3 - 6
     1 - 2
     
    from the 1920 US Federal Census Data
  • Number of Li families
     2 - 1
     2 - 1
     1
     
    from the 1891 England and Wales Census Data
  • Sorry, we couldn't find geographic distribution information for the Li last name
    from the 1891 Scotland Census Data

Li census records

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Li Family Origin

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The information for this chart came from the U.S. Immigration Collection at Ancestry.com. You can find out where the majority of the Li families were living before they immigrated to the U.S and learn where to focus your search for foreign records.

Immigration records can tell you an ancestor's name, ship name, port of departure, port of arrival, and destination.

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Li Immigration Information

from the New York Passenger Lists

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You can find out when most of the Li families immigrated to the United States. You can focus your search to immigration records dating from that era.

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Average Life Expectancy for Li

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An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family.

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Li Family Occupations

from 1880 Federal Census Data

Li census records

Census records can offer a lot of little known facts about your Li ancestors, such as occupation.

Occupation can tell you about your ancestors' social status and economic status.

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Military Service by Li

Did the Lis fight for the North or the South? Or not at all? Military records can tell you a lot about your ancestors including birthplace, occupation, and even physical descriptions.

Message Board about Li 2 Threads, 2 Messages

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Thread Author Replies
LI Amber 1988 1988 t42Martin_DenCoTX 0
Obit: Ruth Li 0

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