History of your Surname
Get access to John family records.Start a free trial

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

Similar surnames: Jahn, Bohn, Hohn, Johns, Hahn, Mohn, Nohr, Rohn, Gohn, Sohn

Search for a relative to learn more about your family history.

Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

Black & white image of a young woman scientist

Where is the John family from?

You can see how John families moved over time by selecting different census years. The John family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most John families were found in the UK in 1891. In 1840 there were 73 John families living in Pennsylvania. This was about 25% of all the recorded John's in the USA. Pennsylvania had the highest population of John families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the John surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your John ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Housewife were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named John. 17% of John men worked as a Laborer and 7% of John women worked as a Housewife. Some less common occupations for Americans named John were Clerk and Clerk.

View Census data for John | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Laborer
  • Farmer
  • Salesman
  • Clerk

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Housewife
  • Housekeeper
  • Maid
  • Clerk
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What John family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 624,000 census records available for the last name John. Like a window into their day-to-day life, John census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for John

Passenger Lists

There are 103,000 immigration records available for the last name John. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all John immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 173,000 military records available for the last name John. For the veterans among your John ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all John military records

You've only scratched the surface of John family history.

Discover More

What is the average John lifespan?

Between 1941 and 2004, in the United States, John life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1945, and highest in 1985. The average life expectancy for John in 1941 was 46, and 74 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for John

Discover the unique achievements of ancestors in the John family tree

Explore Your Tree
Search for another surname
Start a 14-Day Free Trial