Surname Name Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
This is a German (and Ashkenazi Jewish) locational name that came to describe a person who was from the region of Hesse, which is currently a federal state in German. The states’ name derives from the medieval Latin word Hassia. Ultimately, the name derives from a Germanic or Frankish tribe called the Chatti who first settled the area around 100 BC. It is believed that the name meant “hooded people” as the people may have worn cloaks. One source claims Hesse may have referred to a warrior or solider who wore a helmet like hood. The soldiers from the region were often at war and developed a fierce reputation, hence why they were hired by King George in the 1700s as mercenaries in his wars in America and Canada.
It was inhabited since the Paleothic period. Two other origins theories exist. First, in South Germany, it may derive from the shorten version from the ancient personal name Matthaus. Second, it may arise as a slight variation of the Dutch or German personal (first) name Hesso.
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Hesse, Hessel, Esse, Hetzel, Hesso, and others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Hess ranks 518th in popularity in terms in the United Status as of the 2000. It ranks particularly high in the following seven states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Utah, Oregon, West Virginia, Minnesota, Kansas, and Idaho. The name is very common throughout the German speaking world and others parts of Europe: Germany (171st), Switzerland (63rd), Austria (1,069th), France (3,858th), and the Netherlands (4,067). It is less common in the English speaking parts of Europe (ex. England 8,103rd and Ireland 5,083rd) .
Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearers of this last name (and similar names) were Godescalus Hesso in Koln in 1180 AD, Bentz Hessing in Magstadt in 1350 AD and Martin Hesser in Roth in 1420 AD
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
A one Gretty Hess was born in 1532 in Meirengen in Bern, Switzerland. She married Abraham Leuthold and had two children: Anna and Jacob. She died in 1592 in the same town. A one Agatha Hess was born in 1604 in Wessel, Prussia and she married Jacobus Van de Walle and had a son named Jacob prior to her 1626 death in Dusseldorf. A one Ludwig Hess was born in Muninggen in Wurttenberg in 1645. He married Anna Christina Ambruster and had a daughter named Anna Catharina Hess.
A one Heinrich Hess was born in 1639 in Harmsladt, Hessen. He married Anna Maria Naumann and had two issue with her: Johannes and Augustinus. Augustinus was born in 1658 in Hanau, Germany and he married Kuniguda Emmerick in 1680. He had the following issue with her prior to his death in Bleichebach: Johann Henrich, Anna Catherina, Johannes Henrich Sr., Anna Eva, Augustinus, and Anna Marie. His son Johannes Henrich was born in Cassel, Germany in 1687. He married Anna Catherine Curring-Korsing in 1711 in New York. They had the following issue: Fanniche, Ana Eva (Clapsaddle), Anna Marie (Oosterhout), Catherine, Augustinus, Johannes Jr., John Frederick, Anna Dorothea, and Hendrick. His son Augustinus was born in 1718 in Schohaire, New York. He married Anna Schell and later Catherinew Kast. He had the following children: John, Frederick, George, Augustinus, Anna, Christian, Johann Jost, Nicholas, Conrad, Daniel, and Anna Eva. His son Johann Jost was born in 1758 in Stone Arabia, NY. He married Anna Elizabeth Ettig and had issue with her: Margaret, George Henry, Anna, George Joseph, Eca, and Catherine (Dygert).
Early American and New World Settlers
Early people bearing this last name in colonial America include Catharine , Joseph, and Wilhelm Hess (arrived in New York in 1709), Johannes Hess (New York 1710), Heinrich Hess (1724), and John Frederick Hess (Philadelphia 1807). One of the earliest Canadian settlers with this name was Jacob Hess in 1784 who was a UE (United Empire) loyalist.
I have been unable to identify a motto for the German surname Hess.
We have 9 coats of arms for the Hess surname depicted here. These 9 blazons are from the famed Dutch genealogist Johann Rietstap’s influential and authoritative work The Armorial General that was published in 1861. The bottom of this page contains the blazons (in the original French and translated to English), and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it.
Famous people with this last name include: 1) Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (1894-1987) who was a prominent Nazi political who served as Deputy Fuhrer, 2) Willy Hess (1859-1939) who was a well-known German violinist from Mannheim, 3) Helius Eaobanus Hessus (1488-1540) who was a German Latin poet, 4) Dame Julia Myra Hess (1890-1965) who was a Jewish-English violinist from a family in London, 5) Orvan Walter Hess (1906-2002) who was a doctor known for developing the fetal heart monitor and for using penicillin, and 6) Heinrich Hermann Joseg Freiherr von Hess (1788-1870) who was an Austrian field marcshal who fought two campaigns against King Charles Albert (as well as being involved in the Crimean War and Second Italian War of Independence).