Epstein Surname Genealogy

Epstein surname is Germanic in origin from a place-name
– Eppstein in Hesse or Bavaria or Ebstein in the Styria region of SE
Austria. The root in each case was the
High German ebur meaning “wild boar”
and stein or “stone.”
In Hesse the Lords of Eppstein were a family
of German nobility in the Middle Ages.
From the 12th century onwards they ruled extensive territories
in the
Rhine Main region from their castle at Eppstein, northwest of Frankfurt. However, their line became extinct in 1535
and the Eppstein name no longer featured in that area.Instead, the Epstein surname has had Jewish origins.
the Jewish exodus from Spain in 1492, a line
moved to Ebstein in Styria and took the Ebstein name.
Ebstein became Eppstein and then Epstein.
the course of the succeeding centuries the name was assumed by many
Jewish people, not necessarily
because of any particular line or relationship, but simply because it
was a well-known surname.

Epstein Resources on

Epstein Ancestry

The Epstein name spread amongst the Jewish community in Europe.

in Prague by the 16th century. Meir b. Jacob ha-Levi Eppstein was
a printer there in 1522 and Meir Eppstein a leader of its Jewish
community in 1601.
the beginning
of the 19th century, two brothers in Prague – Israel and Ephraim
Epstein – had acquired
sufficient wealth from their calico printing to establish themselves in
the Austrian capital. Gustav Ritter von
built his Palais Epstein
in Vienna over
the course of the 1860’s. However,
his family fortunes were wiped out by
the Vienna stock market crash of 1873

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Epstein name also featured in
places such as Brest-Litovsk, Grodno, Friedberg and
Konigsberg. Jakub Epstein was a prominent merchant and banker in
Warsaw in the early 1800’s.

But Epsteins, because of Russian pogroms
and later Nazism, are not much seen in Europe today.
largest number of Epsteins
now are in America, followed by
Israel and South
Almost all of these Epsteins are Jewish. But some Catholic
Epsteins from the Hesse area in Germany emigrated as well.

England. The Epstein name
first appeared in London in the 1860’s. Sigmund Epstein, born in
Germany, was recorded as a leather merchant in the 1871
census. Morris Epstein, a cabinet maker, arrived from
Russia in the 1890’s. His sons built furniture in the Art Deco
style until the 1950’s.

Meanwhile Isaac Epstein had come from Lithuania in the 1890’s and
settled in Liverpool. His grandson was Brian Epstein, the
ill-fated manager of the Beatles who took his own life in 1967.

America. Max Epstein was the name that Polish immigrant
Chatskel Barnkovsky took on his arrival in New York in 1870. His
son Jacob, born on the Lower East Side in 1880, moved as a young man to
England where he became the world-renowned sculptor.

Others Epsteins who came to New York were:

  • Morris
    and Sara Epstein who were present there in the early 1880’s.
    Their daughter Charlotte, born in 1884, initially trained as a
    stenographer but then found her metier as a swimming coach. She
    women’s Olympic swimming teams of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
  • Ibzig and Bessie Epstein from Lithuania who came on the Rhynland in 1906 and settled in
    Brooklyn. Their son Teddy became a successful New York pulp
    magazine publisher.
  • Rachmael (Raymond) and Krana Epstein from Minsk who arrived
    around 1910 and also settled in Brooklyn. Their sons Benjamin and
    Samuel who came with them had successful professional careers.
  • while Louis and Della Epstein, Russian immigrants, were living in
    Manhattan around this time. Their son Leopold changed his name to
    Lee Eastman and was the father of Linda Eastman who married Paul

the son of a rabbi from Lithuania, came in 1904 and was a
rabbi in Massachusetts,
first at Roxbury and then at Brookline. There
was later a very notable Epstein family at Brookline,

  • the
    twins Julius and Philip Epstein, screenwriters
    for the 1942 film Casablanca
  • and
    Philip’s grandson Theo Epstein, general
    manager for the Boston Red Sox baseball team in the year 2004 when they
    won the
    World Series.

Epstein, born in Boston, was with his then wife Barbara the
of The
New York
Review of Books
in 1963

Dutch-born Isador Epstein studied music in
London and performed there as a concert pianist before emigrating to
South Africa in 1929. There he became the leading piano teacher
in Johannesburg.

Epstein Miscellany

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

Epstein Names

Jacob Epstein
based in Britain, was a
pioneer of modern sculpture in the first half of the 20th century. Charlotte
“Eppie” Epstein
coached the US Olympic swimming team in the
1920’s. She was known as the mother of
swimming in America.
Brian Epstein was the Liverpool manager
of the Beatles during the 1960’s.
Jason and Barbara Epstein
were co-founders
of The New York Review of Books in 1963

Select Epsteins Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in South Africa)




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