Surnames of this Website
The Francis surname project contains members with many different surnames. To learn more about the origins and meanings of one of the names, click on its link below.
Most sources give the origin of the Francis surname as English, although it occurs throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, and has spread throughout the English-speaking world. An ancestry.com map of the distribution of the surname in England based on the 1891 census shows that, aside from London, the surname occurs most frequently in Wales and East Anglia. Similarly, an ancestry.com chart of all immigrants named Francis shows that nearly all gave Ireland or a part of the U.K. as the port of departure. The few that did not list one of these listed Germany, and even here, it is not certain that the passengers actually originated in Germany.
There are three etymologies that are most commonly given for the name Francis.
- The place of origin etymology. The meaning of Francis is given as "from France" and is typically associated with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and Scotland soon after. The Normans came from Normandy, France, but the majority of them were probably descended from a Danish army (hence the name 'Norman' or "Northman")that had conquered the area in 911 and other Vikings who had been pillaging the area for many years, had been given the land by the French king, and had taken up French language and customs. There is abundant evidence of descendants of Norman invaders,both in England and Scotland, who took up the name. According to some sources, when found in Ireland, it may refer to French Huguenots.
- The patronymic origin. The name was given to the descendants of someone with the given name Francis, just as the names Johnson, Jones, Johns and John were all given to descendants of men named John. The given name Francis was very common in Medieval times because of the influence of Francis of Assisi(), who was sainted by the Catholic church. Although christened "Giovanni", Francis was given the nickname "Francisco" because his mother was French and his father was in France at the time of his birth. A possible variation on this is that the name was short for "St. Francis" and that some individuals took their family name directly from the saint himself.
- The Anglicization origin. The name was sometimes taken by immigrants to English-speaking countries who had other names, which perhaps sounded similar. The ancestry.com website specifically mentions people of Jewish descent, but one of our survey participants also knows a Francis who is descended from a Portuguese doctor named "Francisco", who changed his name to "Francis" when emigrating to England. Similarly, the singer Connie Francis was born with the surname "Franconero", but changed it to Francis to make her name more recognizable to American audiences.
- The Migration Ship Origin (hypothetical) DNA evidence has linked one line (Francis-I1-02) to the family of Robert Rose, who came to North America in 1634 aboard a ship called the Francis. It has been hypothesized that this line of Francises might originally have been a branch of the Roses that took the name Francis because of the ship that brought it to the New World.