Johnson Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

In this article we'll look at the origin and meaning of the surname Johnson 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 Johnson.

Johnson, 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 Johnson surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname Johnson has the literal meaning "son of John." John itself, however, is a name of Hebrew derivation coming from the name Yohanan. The translation of Yohanan meaning "Jehovah has favored or graced by God”. This of course led to the name John becoming particularly popular in the middle ages.

Johnson as a surname seems to have originated from Normandy in France. In 1066 when the Normans invaded and settled in Britain the Johnson family name came along. The name was first recorded in Lincolnshire. The notable Johnson families of this region claimed descent from the House of Fitzjohn in Normandy.

The Northern coastal region of Normandy in France was heavily attacked in the 8th century by Vikings from Scandinavia. Large groups of these Vikings abandoned their raids and decided to settle in the region assimilating with the local Europeans. With them they brought their patronymic naming practices which gave rise to surnames such as Johnson.

One of the earliest notable Johnson families in The British Isles were the Johnsons of Ayscough-Fee, Lincolnshire. This branch at the beginning of the 13th century started to migrate north to Scotland as many notable Norman families did at the time.

This migration resulted in notable Johnsons on both sides of the conquest of Scotland by Edward I of England in 1301. Wautier Johnson of Berwickshire swore allegiance to King Edward while Adam Johnson was taken as a Scottish prisoner of war by the English forces.

In the politics of England and Scotland the name Johnson has arisen on both sides over the centuries in prominent positions.

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

According to the data, Johnson is ranked #2 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Johnson surname appeared 1,932,812 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 655.24 would have the surname Johnson.

We can also compare 2010 data for Johnson 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 2 2 0.00%
Count 1,932,812 1,857,160 3.99%
Proportion per 100k 655.24 688.44 -4.94%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Johnson

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

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 Johnson was:

  • 58.97%, or 1,139,779 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 34.63%, or 669,333 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.54%, or 10,437 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.94%, or 18,168 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.56%, or 49,480 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.36%, or 45,614 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 Johnson has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 58.97% 61.55% -4.28%
Black 34.63% 33.80% 2.43%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.54% 0.42% 25.00%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.94% 0.91% 3.24%
Two or More Races 2.56% 1.82% 33.79%
Hispanic 2.36% 1.50% 44.56%

Data Source(s)

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