Select Anderson Surname Genealogy

Anderson is a patronymic name meaning “son of Andrew,” particularly popular in Scotland where St. Andrew is the patron saint. Anderson in America may be the anglicization of Scandinavian surnames such as Andersson, Andreasson or Anderssen.

Select Anderson Resources on The Internet

Scotland. The name was first found in NE Scotland in the wild mountainous countryside of Badenoch by the Great Glen and Strathspey. It was recorded in 1400 as the Gaelic MacGilleandrich, then as Andrewson and MacAndrew before later becoming Anderson.

“Little John MacAndrew, known in Gaelic as Iain Beg MacAindrea, was a bowman of note in the 17th century and a
terror of all who fought against him. Many tales were told of his exploits and his vengeance on the cattle raiders who raided Basdenoch.”

The largest group of Andersons at that time was to be found in the lands through Aberdeen, Banff and Moray in NE Scotland. They were not all wild men. The Andersons in Aberdeen included those of Finshaugh, Downhill, and Candacraig. Alexander Anderson of Finshaugh was a noted mathematician of the early 17th century and other members of the family were equally distinguished.

John Anderson, born near Inverness, moved with his parents south to Glasgow in the 1670’s where he was a sea captain (he rescued the survivors of the ill-fated Darien settlement scheme in Central America in 1700). A later John Anderson, a noted genealogist, was born in Hamilton just outside Glasgow in 1789. His son William Anderson published his famous biographical history of the people of Scotland, The Scottish Nation, in 1863.

Today there are more Andersons in Glasgow than in the Highlands.

England. Andersons were also across the border in England. Sir Edmund Anderson was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas around the year 1600. He, however, had come from a Scottish family that had moved south to Lincolnshire in the 14th century.

Most Andersons were in northern England, in Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Andersons in Newcastle date from 1520 when Henry Anderson, a merchant, was Sheriff of Newcastle. From this line came the Andersons of Jesmond and Bradley.

Ireland. Andersons from Scotland came to Ireland at the time of the Ulster plantations. There were the Andersons of Lisnamulligan in the Finn valley of Donegal and the Andersons who owned the Lough Gill brewery in Sligo.

America.  The first Andersons in America were probably English, an Anderson family from Lincolnshire who came to Virginia in 1635.  Two brothers Thomas and John were said to have started a shipbuilding yard at Gloucester Point on the York river. Armstead Anderson of this family migrated to Kentucky in the 1790’s.

Numerous other Andersons, from both England and Scotland, had arrived in Virginia by 1700. There were 17 Andersons recorded in the Virginia rent roll of 1704.  A number from Northumberland and Berwickshire had settled along the Chesapeake Bay shore in either Virginia or Maryland. John Anderson had arrived in Virginia in the 1750’s and later settled in Kentucky. By the early 1800’s, other Andersons had spread from Virginia north to Pennsylvania or west into Ohio.

Many of the Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes who emigrated to America with the last name Andersson, Andreasson or Anderssen dropped the extra “s” after their arrival.

One early presence was Erik Anderson of Swedish parentage, born in the New Sweden colony in Delaware sometime in the 1660’s. He lived to be almost a hundred years old. Then there was John Anderson of Swedish ancestry who ran Anderson’s ferry along the Susquehanna river in Pennsylvania in the 1750’s. His son William by an Indian wife became Chief Anderson of the Delaware tribe and is commemorated today by the town of Anderson, Indiana.

However, the main Scandinavian influx was later. The peak years for immigration were from 1875 to 1892. Some of the arrivals at that time were:

  • Charles Anderson from Gotenburg in Sweden who was in Peoria, Illinois in the late 1870’s
  • Jeppe Anderson from Kjelst in Denmark who had reached Omaha, Nebraska in the early 1880’s
  • Henry Anderson from Odense in Denmark who was in Harper county, Kansas in the mid 1880’s.
  • and Alfred Anderson from Vastergotland in Sweden who married in Marshall county, Minnesota in the late 1880’s.

These Scandinavian Andersons account for the high number of Andersons to be found in Midwest states such as Minnesota (which had the largest Anderson population in 1920). Robert Anderson, the famous oilman and wildcatter, was the son of Swedish parents. Elmer Anderson, also of Swedish extraction, was the Governor of Minnesota in the 1950’s.

Canada. An Anderson family from Yorkshire came to Sackville, New Brunswick in 1772. They have remained there to this day.

Select Anderson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Anderson Names

John Anderson was a radical Scottish philosopher and a pioneer in the 18th century of vocational education for the working poor.
John Anderson was a professional magician in Scotland in the Victorian age who has been credited in making magic performances a legitimate theatrical experience.  Jack Anderson was one of the leading American investigative journalists of the 20th century.  Robert Anderson was the legendary oil wildcatter who founded the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).
Louie Anderson is a stand-up comedian from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Select Andersons Today

  • 115,000 in the UK (most numerous in Glasgow)
  • 305,000 in America (most numerous in Minnesota)
  • 130,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Return to Main Page

Leave a Reply