Frank Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
The last name Frank, and its variants Franks and Franke, have several origin theories. First, it could be an official surname deriving from the position/title of “the frank”, meaning a free, enfranchised man, and deriving from the Old French word Franc. Second, it could be a local surname, a form of Frances, i.e. French. The nursename Frank stands for Francis, which in turn derives from Franciscus. The personal (first) name Francis was popularized throughout Christendom by the Italian St. Franics of Assisi (1181-1266 AD). Third, it may be related to related to the Franks, a Germanic people living around the Rhine River during Roman times, whose first empire was created by Clovis I, and later served as the basis for the Holy Roman Empire, who derived their word from a Germanic word meaning javelin, of which the Old English form is franca. The region is sometimes called Francoia. Another source says the name was given to the western part of Europe by the Turks, Greeks, and/or Arabs. In this third case, it would be a name denoting a person who to England (or Ireland, Scotland, or Wales) came from France. In these eastern Mediterranean countries, it was used to denote the Crusaders and their descendants. Fourth, it could have developing as denoting a person who was free, open-hearted, or generous, deriving from the fact that in Gaul, only people of the Frankish race enjoyed the status of fully free men under the feudal system.
The name was first found in Bohemia, where the Francke family acquired several estates and became powerful in the Middle Ages, and eventually became elevated to the ranks of nobility.
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Franks, Franke, Franck, and Franc. Less common variations include Frunks, Frenk, Frink and Fronks.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Frank ranks 454th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Wisconsin, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Alaska. The spelling variant Franks ranks 1,080th and Franke ranks 4,441st in the same Census.
The surname Frank frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (1,928th), Scotland (1,747th), Wales (1,965th), Ireland (2,468th) and Northern Ireland (3,129th). The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (850th), New Zealand (1,949th), Australia (1,629th), and South Africa (951st). The name ranks 43rd in Germany, 70th in Austria, 344th in Switzerland, 192nd in Denmark, and 281st in Israel.
Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearer of this surname was Ricardus Franc who was documented in the Curia Regis Rolls of Essex in 1201 AD. Walter le Franc was documented in the Curia Regis Rolls of Cumberland in 1221 AD.
The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists one bearer of this surname: Walter le Franke in county Wiltshire. A one William le Fraunk was recorded in the Close Roll during the reign of King Edward I (around the year 1280 AD). William le Fraunk was recorded in county Somerset during the first year of the reign of King Edward III of England (1327) in Kirby’s Quest. Fulco le Frank was recorded in the Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum in Turri Londinensi. The Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379 AD lists three bearers of this last name: Robertus Franke Robertus Frankys, and Willelmus Frankys. An early baptism involving this name was John, son of John and Avis Frankes, was baptized at St. James Clerkenwell in 1681 AD. Timothie Frank was documented in Trabroune, Scotland in 1677 AD. An early marriage involving this surname was Jervis Franks to Margaret Barber at St. George’s Hanover Square in 1758.
Frank Family Tree & Frank Genealogy
The Frank of Campsall
Frederick Bacon Frank was an Esquire of Campsall in county York, and Earlham Hall, Norfolk, who was Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for West Riding, as well as High Sheriff in the 1870s. He was born in 1827, and in 1854, he married Mary Ann, daughter of Rear-Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker, Baronet. The Frank family tree traces back to the purchases of the Franks in the county of York that began around 1570 when the manor of Trumfelete was bought from Sir William Willoughby, by John Frank, an Alderman of Pontrefract who died in the 1620s. He had a son named Richard. Richard was an Esquire of Pontefract and Campsall who was born in the 1590s and married Anne, daughter of Bernard Ellis, leaving no male issue, and was succeeded by his grandson (from the elder daughter). This was Edward Ashton, Esq., son of Edward Ashton, Esq. of Cl??cliffe, in Methley, and Ann his wife, daughter and co-heir of Richard Frank, who assumed upon inheriting Campsall at the decease of his grand father, the surname and arms of Frank He married his cousin Ann, daughter of John Pelham of Hull, and one issue with her, a daughter named Anne, who married Sir George Tempest. Edward Frank was succeeded by his brother, Matthew Ashton. Matthew was an Esquire who was born in 1655 and he assumed the surname and arms of Frank. He married Ann, daughter of Thomas Ashwin, of Hamburgh, and by her, had two sons and five daughters. He died in 1717 and was succeeded by his eldest son. This son was Richard Frank, Esq. of Campsall, Recorded of Ponrefract and Doncaster, one of the earliest Members of the Society of Antiquaries. He married Margaret, daughter and co-heir of Robert Frank, but died without issue, whereupon his estates passed to his nephew Bacon. This Bacon Frank was an Esquire of Campball and was a Justice of the Peace and a High Sheriff. He married Catherine, daughter and co-heir of John Hoare, and had seven issue with her: Bacon (officer in the army), Edward, Catherine, Elizabeth, Margaret (married Reverend John Francis), Mary (married Charles Mainwaiting, Captain of the Royal Navy), and Charlotte (married Thomas Bellamy, Esq.). He was succeeded by his son Reverend Edward Frank, of Campsall, Rector of Aldert(??) Suffolk, who in 1800, married Mary Frances, daughter of Colonel James Sowerby and had the following issue with him: Richard Bacon (heir), Edward, Aspinwall, Adolpus, and Jemima. The eldest son and heir was Richard Bacon Frank, Esq. of Campsall who married Caroline, daughter of S. Curtcis LL.D., of an old Kentish family, and died on cholera in 1832, having had the following issue: Frederick Bacon Frank (mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph), Philip Curteis Bacon, and Eleanor Bacon. The Frank Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Frank Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Per saltire azure and very on a saltire indented or, a falcon proper belled gold. Crest: A morion proper thereon a falcon ? proper gutee de larmes, belled or. Motto: Esse quam videri. They are seated at Campsall near Doncaster; and Earlham Hall, Norfolk.
The Franks of Carrig
Thomas Franks, Esq. of Carrig, county Cork, was born in 1828 and succeeded his father in 1870. In 1865, he married his cousin, Eleanor Marion, daughter of John Franks, Esq. Ballyscaddane, county Limerick, and had issue with her, including William Whitmore (1868). The Franks genealogy goes back to the first of the English family of Franks who settled in Ireland, was an officer in Cromwell’s army. David Franks, Esq. of Garriarthur, county Limerick, living 28 February 1718, and had two sons: Thomas (heir) and Matthew (of Moorestown, born around 1702, married Anna Upham, had issue with her, from which a branch of the Franks family tree springs). The elder son and heir, Thomas Franks, Esq. of Garriarthur, county Limerick, was born around 1700 and married Miss Hart, and he had a son named Thomas, who was Esquire of Carrig and a Justice of the Peace, who married Margery, daughter and co-heir of Richard Harte, and had four issue with her: David (heir), William, Catherine (married Sir John Franks), and Margaret (married Ralph Lawrenson). The elder son and heir was David Franks, Esq. of Cork, was a Justice of the Peace who married a daughter of James Nash of Bellevue, and with her left no issue, and was succeeded by his brother William. William Franks, Esq. of Carrig and Justice of the Peace married Catherine, eldest daughter of William Hume, Esq. of Humewood, county Wicklow, who was a Member of Parliament, and had the following issue with her: William, Sir Thomas Harte (Major General, married Matila Kay and later Rebecca Constantia Elizabeth), David Brudenell (married Catherine, daughter of Thompson), Catherine Cecilia Jane (married Sir Denham O. Jephson Norreys), and Margaret. His eldest son was William Franks, Esq. of Carrig, Justice of the Peace, married Elizabeth, daughter of Adam Newman of Dromore, and had three daughters and four sons: Thomas (mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph), William, David, and John. The Frank Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Frank Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Vert, on a saltire or, a griffin’s head erased gules; in the centre chief point a mullet of the second. Crests: Out of a mural crown or, a griffin’s head gules between two wings erminois each charged with a mullet sable. They were seated at Carrig, county Cork, Ireland.
The Franks of Ballyscaddane
John Franks was Esquire of Ballyscaddane in county Limerick and Justice of the Peace for counties Essex, Limerick, and Tipperary, as was as Deputy Lietuenant, and High Sheriff of Limerick who, in 1828, married Eleanora, daughter of William Whitemore of Dudmaston Hall, Salop, and had issue with her as follows: Thomas John (born 1831, Justice of the Peace, married Clara Kettle), Henry Whitmore (born 1840, served in the Indian Army, married Elizabeth Watts), Mary (married Thomas Wise Gubbins of Kilfrush), and Eleanor Marion (married Thomas Franks of Carrig Park). The lineage or ancestry of this family is a branch of the family of Franks of Carrig. Sir John Franks, Q.C., Judge of the Supreme Court, Bengal, was born in 1769, and was son of Thomas Franks of Ballymagooly. He first married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Franks of Carrig, and secondly, Jane, daughter of John Marshall, and thirdly, Sarah Wollaston, daughter and co-heir of William O’Regan, and had the following issue with the first wife: John, Matthew (11th Dragoons, married Louisa, daughter of Captain Roche, and later Margaret, daughter of Thomas Brown, and had issue), Margaret (married Ven. John Hawtayne, Archdeacon of Bombay and had issue), Catherine (married Thomas Montgomery of Killee Castle), and Lucy (married Henry Holroyd). The Franks Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Franks Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Vert, on a saltire or, a griffin’s head erased gules; in the centre chief point a mullet of the second. Crest: Out of a mural crown or, a griffin’s head gules between two wings erminois each charged with a mullet sable. Motto: Sic vos non vobis. They were seated at Ballyscaddane, near Knocklong, county Limerick, Ireland.
Sir Robert John Frank, 3rd Baronet, of Withymag, county Sussex, was born in 1925 and succeeded his brother in 1944. The lineage traces back to Frederick Frank, of Blackhurst, Tunbridge Wlles who dided in 1915 and was the father of Sir Howard George Frank, 1st Baronet, who was a senior partner in the firm of Messrs, Knight, Frank, and Rutley, who held numerous titles such as Governor of the Royal Agricultural Society and Director General of Lands to the War ffice. He was born in 1871 and knighted in 1914. He was created a Baronet in 1920. In 1896, he married Mabel Hellen, daughter of Joseph Arnold, of Tunbridge Wells, county Kent, and had a daughter with her named Mary Doreen (who married Lieutenant Kenneth Norman Mackenzie Macrae). He later married Nancy Muriel, daughter of John Brooks, and by her, had two issue: Sir Howard Frederick (2nd Baronet) and Sir Robert John (3rd Baronet). His elder son was Sir Howard Frederick Frank, 2nd Baronet, who was a Lieutenant of the Gren. Guards who derived in World War II. They resided at Lampard House on Maida Avenue.
Other Frank Pedigree & Family Trees
Robert Frank was born in York, England around 1530. He had three issue: John, Henry, and Isabella. His son John Esq. was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire around 1550. He married Dorothy Balne and had the following issue with her: Richard, Jane, Alice, Robert, Charles, Matthew, Isabel, Elizabeth, Anne, and Rosamund.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions one bearers of this last name: John Franks, who in 1663, married Sarah, daughter of Joseph Weld of Roxbury and had children with her named John (1664), Joseph (1666), and Sarah (1669).
Early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include:
Daniel Frank (Virginia 1622)
Robert Franke (Virginia 1642)
Robert Frank (Virginia 1651)
Henry Franke (Virginia 1653)
Peter or Pierre Franks Sr. (Maryland 1658)
Thomas Franke (Virginia 1658)
Ann Franks (Virginia 1662)
Catherine Frank (Virginia 1695)
Johan Marten Frank (New York 1709)
Michal Frank (New York 1709)
Thomas Franke (Virginia 1714)
Johannes Conrad Frank (Pennsylvania 1731)
Anna Frank (Pennsylvania 1732)
Jacob Franks (George 1735)
Christopher Franke (Pennsylvania 1742)
Moses Benjamin Franks (New York 1748)
H.B. Franks (Pennsylvania 1755)
Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Franke (Philadelphia 1793)
David Franks (New York 1798)
In Canada, one of the first bearers was George Frank, who landed in Halifax in 1749. In Australia, one of the first settlers with this last name was J. Friedrich Frank, a farmer, who came to South Australia aboard the Alfred in 1848. In New Zealand, one of the first bearers was P. Frank, who arrived in Nelson in 1843 aboard the St. Paul.
Early Americans Bearing the Frank Family Crest
I researched the following three resources and did not find any coats of arms for Frank: Bolton’s American Armory, Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook, and Crozier’s General Armory.
I have identified two Frank family mottos :
1) Sic vos non vobis (For you, but not yours)
2) Non omnibus nati (Not born for all)
3) Esse quam videri (To be, rather than to seem)
4) Sic vos non vobis (So you not for yourself)
5) Flottenschutz (Fleet protection (?))
We have 27 coats of arms for the Frank, Franks, and Franke surname depicted here. The first 12 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The remainder of the arms are from the Dutch genealogist/heraldist John Baptista Rietstap’s book Armorial Général, published in 1884. The bottom of this page contains the blazons (in French and English where appropriate), and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Frank Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Family Crest)
1) Captain Francke of a troop of horse in Ireland, 18 January 1652-3 by Sir E. Bysshe
2) William Francke, the New Works, Leicester, 6 Feb 1689-90 by T. St. George.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Frank surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank (1929-1945) who was a German born diarist who became one of the most well-known Jewish victims of the Holocaust, 2) Barnett “Barney” Frank is a former American politician and board member of the New York-based Signature Bank and he served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts from 1981-2013, 3) Waldo David Frank (1889-1967) who was an American novelist, historian, political activist, and literary critic who wrote for The New Yorker and The New Republic who was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 4) Adolph Frank (1834-1916) who was a German chemist, engineer, and businessman who was best known for having discovered uses for potash and create an industry around it, 5) August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) who was a German Lutheran clergyman, philanthropist, and Biblical scholar, 6) Bernd Franke (1948) was a German footballer who played goalkeeper born in Bliesen who played for the West German National team from 1972-1984, 7) Bilhah Abigail Levy Franks (1696-1756) who was an English-born Jewish woman who lived in New York in British America who is known for the letters she wrote to her elder son after he moved to England, letters describing the political and social milieu of 18th-century New York, 8) William Sadler Franks (1851-1935) was a British astronomer who published a catalogue of the colours of 3,890 stars, 9) Harold Trent Franks (1957) who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s 8th congressional district who has served since 2013, and 10) Daniel Lamont “Bubba” Franks (1978) who is a former tight end in the NFL who played 2000-2008 for the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets.