Bader Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Bader Surname Meaning

The Bader surname has German origins, from the German bad meaning “bath,” and was an occupational for an attendant at a public bath house. These attendants in fact undertook a variety of functions including tooth-pulling and hair-cutting, the practice of barber surgeons as they came to be called.

Bader could be pronounced “Bahder” or “Bawder,” depending on which German-speaking region the name came from.

Bader Surname Resources on The Internet

Bader Surname Ancestry

  • from Southern Germany, Switzerland and from Jewish emigrants
  • to England, America and Canada

Bader is a name of southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria today. The largest numbers are in Munich and Zurich. The approximate numbers today are:

  • Germany 18,000
  • Switzerland 5,000
  • and Austria 3,000.

A number of Bader emigrants came from Baden and probably took their name from that town. Others were Jewish. Bader is also a surname of the Middle East.

England. Some give the Bader surname in England Welsh origins, from the Welsh ap Adda meaning “son of Adam.” George Badder was recorded in Shropshire in 1661. But the Bader name there is non-existent today. Most English Baders would seem to have had foreign origins.

The ancestry of Douglas Bader, the RAF hero of World War Two, is uncertain. His father Frederick Bader may have been born in France. Frederick worked for the Royal Engineers in India and later fought in World War One. Hit by shrapnel in 1917, he died of his wounds in France five years later.

Other notable Baders have been:

  • Ernest Bader from Switzerland, a conscientious objector in his own country and a Quaker when he came to England. He founded the chemical company of Scott Bader in 1921 which he gave away to his employees thirty years later.
  • and Alfred Bader who as a boy fled Nazi Germany for England in 1938. However, the Government interned him in Canada two years later and his business success happened there rather than in England.

America. Hans Melchior Bader, born at Kirchheim in Baden-Wurttemburg in 1700, was probably the first Bader recorded in America. He came with his family to Philadelphia on the Billinder in 1739 and they settled in the Mohawk valley of New York. Bader became Bauder and even Pauter over the generations. Peg Bauder Nielsen named her 1976 book The Bader-Bauder Family of the Mohawk Valley.

Another Bader family from Wurttemburg, that of Johann Georg Bader, came to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in the 1750’s. They changed their name to either Badders or Borders within a generation.

More Baders came in the 19th century. Their numbers included:

  • Jeremiah Bader who arrived from Germany in the 1820’s and married and settled down in Ohio. His son William Bader made his home in Illinois in a railroad town that came to be known as Bader.
  • Joseph Bader who arrived in Galveston from Alsace on the Heinrich in April 1844. He was one of the founders of Castroville, Texas five months later.
  • another Joseph Bader who arrived ifrom Germany in 1852, settling first in Illinois and then running a hotel in Yancton, Minnesota.
  • Thomas Bader who came from Switzerland in 1856, settling first in Wisconsin and then in Iowa.
  • Daniel Bader who came to Philadeplhia from Baden around 1870 and ran an 80 acre farm in the outskirts of the city. His son Edward Bader, a New Jersey construction magnate, was mayor of Atlantic City in the 1920’s.
  • and Johann and Anne Maria Bader from Wurttemburg who came to America in 1884. They farmed first in Kansas and later in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Jewish. There were also Jewish Baders who came to America. The best known is Joan Ruth Bader, born in Brooklyn to Russian Jewish immigrants in 1933. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg she was in 1993 the second female justice to be appointed to the US Supreme Court.

Canada. Adrian and Joanna Bader were the parents of a large Bader family in the town of Warmond in the southern part of Holland. They emigrated in stages between 1924 and 1926 to North America, eventually settling in Vancouver. They set up a small bakery in the Cedar Cottage neighborhood. By 1932 the bakery was called Bader Dutch Bakeries and there were multiple locations in Vancouver and elsewhere.

Alfred Bader was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who was interned by the British Government in Canada in 1940. After the war he prospered with his chemical company in Toronto. In later life he was a noted philanthropist and art collector.

Bader Surname Miscellany

Bader in the Middle East.  In Arabic Bader means ‘the full moon.’

A Bader family originated in Hebron city in present-day Palestine.  Mohammad Kashkol Bader ruled Palestine for several years and became the prince of Palestine.  Baders later moved to the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia near to Mecca  There is some evidence that they were descendants of the Prophet Mohammad.  Baders are found today in Saudi Arabia and also in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

Douglas Bader and His Father Major Frederick Bader.  In the British Waterloo monument in Belgium there is the grave of Frederick Bader, a major with the Royal Engineers during World War One.  He was badly injured by shrapnel in 1917 and went on to die of these wounds many years later in 1922 at a hospital at Saint Omer near Lille in northern France.  Young Douglas was just twelve years of age at the time.

Douglas joined the RAF in 1928 and was commissioned in 1930. In December 1931, while attempting some aerobatics, he crashed and lost both his legs.  Having been on the brink of death, he recovered, retook flight training, passed his check flights and then requested reactivation as a pilot.  He became a flying ace during World War Two.

Douglas Bader was shot down and captured by the Germans in 1941, ironically in the same area of northern France where his father had died of his war wounds.

William Bader of Bader, Illinois.  William Bader was born in Preble county, Ohio in 1826, the son of German immigrant parents. He went into the lumber business and moved to Schuyler county, Illinois where he started a lumber mill and became quite rich.  This allowed him to expand into grain and run a grain elevator.

He and his wife Mercy had no children of their own.  But the railroad spur township of Bader, named after William Bader in 1870, could boast of two later prominent Baders:

  • the evangelist Jesse Moren Bader (the son of William Pearson Bader) who was born there in 1886
  • and the baseball pitcher Lore Bader (William Bader’s nephew) who was born there in 1888.

Edward Bader, Mayor of Atlantic City.  Edward Bader was a popular mayor of Atlantic City in the 1920’s.

He had moved to the town in 1902 to manage his father’s garbage disposal company.  Two years later he entered the contracting business and soon started gathering important contracts in the resort.  Roads were an important part of that endeavor, including the paving of Albany Avenue.  Bader turned to politics in 1920, was elected to the commission, and from there was designated mayor.

As mayor he was an avid sports booster.  He fielded basketball teams, organized Atlantic City’s first professional football team – the Blue Tornadoes – and owned a boxing gym on North New Hampshire Avenue.  He would regularly bring world-class boxers to Atlantic City to fight.  He formed Atlantic City High School’s band and encouraged high school athletics.

He had a reputation as well for standing up for the people.  In 1923 he spoke out against a Ku Klux Klan meeting in Atlantic City.  He also pushed forward the idea of city residents helping to organize and run a beauty pageant that came to be known as the Miss America pageant.

In 1927 Mayor Bader died at the relatively young age of fifty two years. Bader Field, the city’s airport established by people looking for a port for their seaplanes, was named after him.

Alfred Bader Fleeing Nazi Germany.  Alfred’s grandfather, Moritz Ritter von Bader, had been a Jewish civil engineer who worked with Ferdinand de Lesseps building the Suez Canal.  His mother, Elizabeth Countess Serenyi, was the daughter of a Catholic Hungarian count When she fell in love with his father, a middle-class Jew, her parents tried to have her committed to an asylum. Despite this roadblock, they married in London, settled in Vienna, and had two children there.

When his father died just two weeks after Alfred’s birth in 1924, his mother was left with no income in a time of runaway inflation.  Her sister-in-law adopted Alfred and raised him as a Jew. In 1938, after the infamous Kristallnacht, Alfred was one of 10,000 mainly Jewish youngsters allowed to enter Britain.

In 1940 Winston Churchill, alarmed by the possibility of ‘fifth columnists’ among the many German-speaking refugees, decided to “collar the lot” and sent many between the ages of 16 and 65 as “enemy aliens” to internment camps in Canada and Australia.  Alfred, just sixteen, was held in Quebec’s Fort Lennox until the fall of 1941 when he was released into the care of a Montreal sponsor, Martin Wolff.

Alfred was to prosper in Canada which he made his home.  His chemical business made him rich and he became known in Toronto as a philanthropist and collector of fine art.

Bader Names

  • Edward Bader was the flamboyant mayor of Atlantic City in the 1920’s when the city was at the peak of its popularity as a vacationing place.
  • Douglas Bader was a RAF flying ace during World War Two. He achieved these feats after having lost both of his legs in a flying accident in 1931. 
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, born Joan Ruth Bader to Jewish immigrant parents, was in 1993 the second female justice to be appointed to the US Supreme Court.  She died in 2020.

Bader Numbers Today

  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in UK)

Bader and Like Surnames 

The first wave of German immigration into America came in the early 1700’s from the Rhine Palatine and Switzerland.  They were fleeing religious persecution at home.  Most ended up in Pennsylvania, bringing their Mennonite church with them.  Some went to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  Their Germanic names often changed under English rule to English-style names.  Thus Fischer became Fisher, Schneider Snyder, Hubner Hoover and so forth.

The reasons for immigration were different in the 19th century – in search of a better life, sometimes to avoid the draft.  They came from all German states and went not just to Pennsylvania but all over as the middle and west of the country was opening up.  And they brought German skills with them, notably beer-making.

Here are some of the notable German surnames in America that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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