Bush Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Bush Meaning
The surname Bush is a topographical one, coming from the Old English busc or buskr, describing someone who lived
by a bushy area or thicket. The German equivalent is Busch
and Bushes in America may have German or even possibly Dutch roots.

Bush Resources on

Bush Ancestry

An early record of the surname was Richard de la Busce in the Yorkshire
pipe rolls of 1181. The Bush name did seem to have appeared in
Yorkshire first. Later it spread west and south and west.
The 19th century distribution of the name shows one cluster in the west
country around Somerset and Gloucestershire and another in London and
East Anglia.

West of England.
Bushes in Bristol were recorded from around 1490. Paul Bush
the first Bishop of Bristol and his brother John purchased the Edington
estate from church lands at the time of the dissolution of the
monasteries. It seems that these Bushes had come originally from

East Anglia.
Reynold Bush was a yeoman farmer in Messing in north Essex who
emigrated to America in the 1630’s. A William Bush was born in
the village of Pebmarsh nearby in 1764. A later Bush of this
village, a farm laborer of the early 1800’s, is believed to have been
the ancestor of the singer Kate Bush. And Bushes from Wymondham
and Attleborough in Norfolk date from the late 1600’s.

America. An early Bush in
America was of Dutch descent. Jan Bosch immigrated to what was
then New Amsterdam from Holland in 1662. These Bushes were for
many years farmers in upstate New York. It was Rufus T. Bush
made the first family fortune in the late 19th century from oil
refining. His son
Irving made
a second fortune through the Bush terminal in Brooklyn and his real
estate ventures in New York and London.

English Bushes.
Early arrivals in America were:

  • Reynold Bush who arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630’s from
    Messing in Essex. Samuel Bush of Westfield, Massachusetts was
  • and William Bush who came to Maryland in 1671 and Richard Bush to
    Virginia around the same time, from possibly related families.

Although there were connections to Jonathan Fairbanks and Thomas
Hinckley of the original Plymouth colony, the Richard Bush who came to
Massachusetts in the early 1700’s was the first Bush of the line that
extended via Obadiah Bush in the early 19th century to the President
George W. Bush of today. According to the book The Faith of George W. Bush:

“Obadiah left his home during the War
of 1812, became a schoolmaster, then caught gold fever and left for
California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Two years later he tried
to return home to reclaim his family and take them west. He
died in the attempt and was buried at sea, leaving his wife and seven
children alone in Rochester, New York.”

So the Bushes stayed East and went to Yale instead. Samuel Bush
was a close advisor to President Hoover; while Prescott Bush served as
Governor of Connecticut, and both his son and grandson became American

German Bushes. Many
more German Busches

came to America than
did English Bushes. Some like Adolphus Busch, the founder of the Anheuser Busch brewery, kept the
spelling. Others anglicized their name to Bush.

Among these Bushes were:

  • The
    line from Henrik Bosch, an early arrival
    in New York in 1661, which became Bush sometime in the 1730’s.
  • Johannes
    Busch who came to New Berks county,
    Pennsylvania in the 1730’s (his three brothers settled in Virginia). These Busches were Bushes by the time of the
    Revolutionary War.
  • Conradt

    who arrived from Germany in 1775, fought in the Revolutionary War, and
    was Conrad Bush soon afterwards.
  • Mathias
    and his
    family who came to America in 1852 as Busches. By the time of the
    census for Dane county, Wisconsin, they were Bushes.

Busch (later Bush) left Vienna for
New York after the failure of the 1848 Revolution. For a short
while he
published the first Jewish weekly newspaper in America before moving to
Louis where he developed an interest in vineyards.

Australia. Two
Bush brothers from Norfolk, Arthur and Jeremiah, came to NSW in 1835
settled in Jerrawa Creek. Their
descendants now number ten generations and they hold regular reunions. The family story was recounted in E.G.
Hazell’s 1995 book Re-Generation: A Bush
Family Genealogy.

Jacob Busch
emigrated from Germany to Australia in 1855, arriving in Sydney on the Peru and settling in the Hunter
Valley. He dropped the “c” from his
surname prior to being naturalized in 1884.


Select Bush Miscellany

Paul Bush, Bishop of Bristol.  Paul Bush
was born in Somerset “‘of honest and sufficient parents”‘ in 1490.  He was well-educated for his time and
obtained royal favor during the reign of Henry VIII.
He became the King’s chaplain around
1540.  The King, on the foundation of the
bishopric of Bristol, selected Bush as the first bishop of the new see.  Paul Bush also secured at that time the manor
of Buckland and a pension of £100 a year.

It was the time of the dissolution of the monasteries and the Bush
family got their hands on the Edington estate near Westbury in
Wiltshire.  John Ryve the vicar there had
“the good
fortune to die in 1638.”  So the seizure
was undertaken without force.  It was
Paul’s brother John who secured Edington at a knock-down price.

Paul Bush ran into trouble when Queen Mary
ascended the throne in 1553.  He had
married earlier in the year and proceedings were taken against him as a
married priest (even though his wife had died by that time). The sentence of deprivation was then passed
on him.  He retired to the rectory of
Winterbourne near Bristol where he remained until his death in 1558,
a few days before the death of Queen Mary. 

Bushes in Westfield, Massachusetts.  For some
time it has been suspected that Samuel Bush of Westfield, Jonathan
Bush, and
Abiel Bush were all brothers, being sons of John Bush and grandsons of
the Reynold
Bush who emigrated on the Lion from
Messing in England to the Massachusetts colony around 1640.

is evidence only that Abiel Bush was
the son of John and thus the grandson of immigrant Reynold.  But the similarity of the DNA results for all
six members of these Group A participants suggests that they all shared
common ancestor in the not too distant past.
That would in fact be consistent with Samuel, Jonathan and Abiel
brothers as the circumstantial evidence has suggested.

among the Group A Bushes was Ebenezer
Bush who inherited in 1709 what is now the oldest standing house in
Westfield.  From then until the 1920’s
the Bush family ran a farm on the land there.
house later underwent a restoration thanks to John and Emma Bush
Collins, Emma
being the seventh generation of the Bush family to live in the house.

is a Bush family association of
Westfield, Massachusetts.  Some
have claimed that this
Bush line also extended downwards to the Presidents Bush.
But these Bushes are Group B2, not A.

Bushes in America.  Many more German Busches came to
America than did English Bushes.

from:   Bush  Busch  Total
Britain (incl. Ireland)    248      –     248
German lands     99   1,113   1,212

Conrad Bush of Pompey, NY.  Conradt Busch
came to America on the King of Prussia
in 1775 and soon enlisted in the Continental Army, serving as a matross or
driver.  He was present at Valley Forge,
at many of the subsequent battles of the Revolutionary War, and at the
of Cornwallis.

In 1790, for his services
during the War, Conrad Bush was granted military lot 47 in the town of
in upstate New York to settle.  It was
said that when he arrived there he found a man and his nine grown-up
living on that land and he ejected them.
He and his wife Mary from Ireland raised twelve children there.

He lived a long life.  His age was given as
84 in 1840.  In 1848 he was listed as one
of the few
survivors of Colonel Lamb’s regiment in the War.  He
died at 98 in 1854 and was buried in the
Bush family cemetery in Pompey.

Rufus T. Bush the Slacker.  Rufus was
known in his family as RT.  He was by
repute a slacker.  He came from a family of
farmers, but he couldn’t stand the hard work.
He didn’t have any perseverance or “stick-to-it-iveness,”
according to family relatives.

So when RT was old enough, he left his father’s farm, did this and
even joined the circus, and went into a couple of hare-brained business
deals.  Finally, the story went, he ended
up in New York City of all places and, by some fluke of luck, built the
terminals.   The way they told the
– it was not that he succeeded but that he just couldn’t work hard at

fact Rufus T. Bush started in business in the
1850’s by selling sewing machines in Chicago.
He then moved to New York and, after making some money from a
number of
business deals, invested in an oil refinery on the Brooklyn waterfront.  It was his son Irving, not Rufus, who built
the Bush terminals.

The oil refining
business gave Rufus the funds to build his famous yacht the Coronet.  Rufus and his
family circumnavigated the globe on the Coronet in 1888,
stopping off in
Hawaii, Japan, India, and elsewhere.  The
Coronet was sold before Rufus’s death in 1890.

Prescott Bush, the First of the Political Bushes.  James Smith Bush, the son of Obadiah and Hannah Bush, entered Yale University in
1841, starting
what would become a long family tradition.
He like succeeding Bushes down to President George W. Bush, were
Yale alumni and had all been members of the secretive and influential
Skull and
Bones student society.

His grandson
Prescott Bush played varsity golf, football and baseball, and
president of the Yale Glee Club.  He was
a 6ft 4inch charmer with a rich singing voice and was the founder of
the Bush
political dynasty.

In 1924, his
father-in-law helped set him up in business in New York with Averill
Harriman.   He
Harriman were directors of the Union Banking Corporation, an investment
controlled by the German Thyssen family.
This relationship later had him and the bank suspected of
holding gold
for the Nazis.

Prescott Bush survived
these accusations and went on to become the Republican Senator for
in 1952.  He served there for ten years.

Under the Anheuser Bush.  Under the Anheuser Bush
was a popular early-1900s song commissioned by the Anheuser-Busch brewery.  The words were fairly simple:

come, come and make eyes
with me

the Anheuser bush.
come drink some ‘Budweis’ with me
the Anheuser bush.
Hear the old German band
this point the
band plays the first bar of Ach du lieber
Just let me hold your
hand – ja-a!
do come and have a stein
or two
the Anheuser bush.”

The English version was Down at the Old Bull and Bush.


Bush Names

  • Irving T. Bush was the
    real estate developer of the Bush terminal in Brooklyn, the Bush Tower skyscraper in New York, and Bush House in London.
  • George H.W. Bush was the
    41st President of the United States.
  • George W. Bush was the 43rd
    President of the United States.
  • Kate Bush has been a
    highly popular English singer/songwriter.

Select Bush Numbers Today

  • 16,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 28,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Bush and Like Surnames

The surnames found here cover most of the US Presidential surnames since the first President, George Washington.  Click on the surname below if you wish to know more of that particular President and his name.

ClintonJacksonNixonVan Buren




Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply