John Family History
John Name Meaning
English, Welsh, German, etc.: ultimately from the Hebrew personal name yo?hanan ‘Jehovah has favored (me with a son)’ or ‘may Jehovah favor (this child)’. This personal name was adopted into Latin (via Greek) as Johannes, and has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe throughout the Christian era, being given in honor of St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand other Christian saints of the name. Some of the principal forms of the personal name in other European languages are Welsh Ieuan, Evan, Siôn, and Ioan; Scottish Ia(i)n; Irish Séan; German Johann, Johannes, Hans; Dutch Jan; French Jean; Italian Giovanni, Gianni, Ianni; Spanish Juan; Portuguese João; Greek Ioannes (vernacular Yannis); Czech Jan; Russian Ivan. Polish has surnames both from the western Slavic form Jan and from the eastern Slavic form Iwan. There were a number of different forms of the name in Middle English, including Jan(e), a male name (see Jane); Jen (see Jenkin); Jon(e) (see Jones); and Han(n) (see Hann). There were also various Middle English feminine versions of this name (e.g. Joan, Jehan), and some of these were indistinguishable from masculine forms. The distinction on grounds of gender between John and Joan was not firmly established in English until the 17th century. It was even later that Jean and Jane were specialized as specifically feminine names in English; bearers of these surnames and their derivatives are more likely to derive them from a male ancestor than a female. As a surname in the British Isles, John is particularly frequent in Wales, where it is a late formation representing Welsh Siôn rather than the older form Ieuan (which gave rise to the surname Evan). As an American family name this form has absorbed various cognates from continental European languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988.) It is used as a given name among Christians in India, and in the U.S. has come to be used as a surname among families from southern India.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press