Allen Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

In this article we'll look at the origin and meaning of the surname Allen and how popular it is in the United States. We'll also look at the race and ethnic origin of people in the United States who are named Allen.

Allen, like all of the names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Allen surname is from the 2010 census data.

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What is the Origin and Meaning of the Last Name Allen?

The surname of Allen may be based on either a location or a personal nickname. Possibly deriving from the Old Gaelic word ailin, meaning "little rock," this name may have been bestowed upon people who lived near a region that in antiquity bore the name of Ailin. It may also have been bestowed as a nickname that ultimately became a family name.

A second origin of the name may come from the Celtic language in the form of Aluinn which means handsome.

After the Norman conquest in 1066 the Bretons of south-western England became supporters of William the Conqueror. Amongst these people, the early forms of the Allen name were popular with the 6th century St. Alan (Allan) of Cornish Breton origin. Their expansion north under William may account for the name's spread. The 5th century St. Alunus, Bishop of Quimper, may also have inspired the spread of the name in Ireland due to the growing influence of Christianity in the British Isles.

There are several spellings of the Allen name with England and Scotland favoring Allan, whereas Allen is most commonly used in Ireland. This is likely a minimization of the Irish surname MacAllen or “son of Allen."

Frances Margaret Allen (November 13, 1784 – September 10, 1819) was the daughter of a Revolutionary War soldier. She was not raised in a religious family, in fact her father was something of a skeptic, but Frances developed an interest in the Catholic church. A series of unusual experiences led to Frances' conversion to Catholicism. Frances holds the distinction of becoming the first New England born woman to become a nun in the Catholic church.

Where Does Allen Rank in the Most Common U.S. Names?

According to the data, Allen is ranked #33 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Allen surname appeared 482,607 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 163.61 would have the surname Allen.

We can also compare 2010 data for Allen to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 33 32 3.08%
Count 482,607 463,368 4.07%
Proportion per 100k 163.61 171.77 -4.87%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Allen

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Allen.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups: "White only", "Black only", "American Indian and Alaskan Native only", "Asian and Pacific Islander only", "Two or More Races", and "Hispanic".

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Allen was:

  • 67.59%, or 326,194 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 26.17%, or 126,298 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.54%, or 2,606 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.86%, or 4,150 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.38%, or 11,486 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.47%, or 11,920 total occurrences, were "Hispanic Origin".

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Allen has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 67.59% 70.24% -3.85%
Black 26.17% 25.14% 4.01%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.54% 0.41% 27.37%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.86% 0.83% 3.55%
Two or More Races 2.38% 1.77% 29.40%
Hispanic 2.47% 1.62% 41.56%

Data Source(s)

All of the data on this page is sourced from the Decennial Census survey, from the United States Census Bureau.

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