Friedman Surname Meaning, History & Origin
diminutive of the old Germanic personal name Friederich, a
hereditary name of the medieval Hohenstaufen family of SW
Germany. Friedman or variants thereof then began to emerge as
surnames, in SW Germany and in Silesia.
the early 19th century, many opted for this non-Jewish
name Friedman. It approximated in meaning to their shalom (“peace”) or Solomon
which means “a free man.”
- Friedman from Libau. Friedmans
- Recollections of My Father.
Chaim Lazar Friedman from Grodno, Belarus.
Friedmann name is mainly to be found in Baden-Wurttemberg and
Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany today. It also appears to a lesser
extent in Hungary. In the 19th century, with the larger Jewish
population, there was a wider spread.
Emigration data to America showed sizeable numbers of Friedmans coming from Germany and Hungary
and also from Poland and Russia. The Friedman family circle, now numbering more than 2,500 members, is composed of the descendants of
the marriage of Pinchas Friedman and Clara Glicksman in Poland in 1808.
The principal destination for these emigrants was of course
America. Friedman (pronounced “Freedman”) was the main spelling there. Some, however, did change their name to
Freeman (Solomon Friedman, for instance, made this name change on his arrival in Hartford, Connecticut in 1861).
Other Friedman destinations were England, Canada, Australia,
South America and, later, South Africa. The spelling here ended
up being either Friedman or Freedman.
America. The Friedman emigrants to
America seemed to show a pattern, coming first from Germany in the
1840’s, then from Russia in mid-century (or rather Latvia and Lithuania
of the Russian Empire at that time), and, by the turn of the century,
increasingly from Hungary (then still part of the old Austro-Hungarian
Some went South. The earliest Friedman arrival in America from
Hungary was probably Bernard Friedman, a
travelling peddler in Alabama and Mississippi at the time of the Civil
War. After the War he settled in Tuscaloosa where he became a
successful entrepreneur. In 1875 he had acquired a magnificent
antebellum mansion there from a bankrupt owner. Battle House was to
stay with the Friedman family until 1965 when it was willed to the state as a historic house museum.
Another Jewish Friedman outpost in the South was Natchitotes, Louisiana
where Samuel and Caroline Friedman settled in the mid 1800’s.
Two generations later Sylvan Friedman, a large landowner and cattleman there, became a
prominent Louisiana politician. Less fortunate was JB Friedman, a justice of the peace in Boutte, Louisiana.
stepping off the porch of his store, intending to go to the railroad
station nearby, when the assassin stepped around the corner and shot
him. He was taken back into his house and a doctor called, but he
died before midnight.”
Most Friedmans, however, came North and in particular to New York City
(in 1965 it was calculated that Friedman was the 17th most common
surname there). It has been the first and second generation
American born Friedmans who succeeded most brilliantly there, as
businessmen, entrepreneurs, lawyers, economists, scientists, writers,
and in a host of other professions as well. Milton
Friedman’s upbringing shows how an immigrant son without any
particular advantages could make it in his chosen profession.
There have also been more recent Friedman arrivals, such as Lily Friedman,
among those who escaped or survived the Nazi holocaust.
Australia. The first
recorded Hungarian in Australia was merchant Isaac Friedman who arrived
with his wife and daughter in 1833. He was recorded as a
shop-keeper in Hobart in the 1840’s.
Friedman Name Origins. The German surname of Friedman was derived from a combination of a patronymic and a local source.
The element Fried was derived from an old Germanic personal name which tended to be handed down from generation to generation. This name was a pet form of the popular medieval name Fridila, composed of the elements vriedel (“loved one”) or vridelin (“peace-maker”). It was also the locational name for someone who lived near or in a wood.
The name was born by a canonized 9th century bishop of Utrecht and was a hereditary name of the medieval Hohenstaufen ruling family in SW Germany.
Friedmans to America by Place of Origin
Friedman Emigrants: 1840-1870. These were some of the Friedmans that emigrated from Europe from the 1840’s to the 1870’s:
|Franklin Fridman||Germany (Wurttenburg)||1840’s||Kentucky|
|Joseph Friedman||Germany (Baden)||1840’s||Missouri|
|Max Friedman||Germany (Muhlhausen)||1850||NYC|
|Aaron Friedman||Poland (Stavisk)||1850’s||NYC|
|David Friedman||Latvia (Libau)||1860’s||England|
|Joseph Friedman||Latvia (Kurland)||1860’s||NYC|
|Johan Friedman||Germany (Pfalz)||1871||NYC|
Friedman Emigrants: 1880-1910. These were some later migrants:
|Jacob Friedman||Hungary (Kirchdraft)||1880’s||USA|
|Jacob Friedman||Hungary (Chelmno)||1900||South America|
|Jacob Friedman||Hungary (Debrecen)||1900’s||Ohio|
|Jeno Friedman||Hungary (Beregszasz)||1900’s||NYC|
|Solomon Friedman||Romania (Jassy)||1904||NYC|
|Charles Friedman||Moldova (then Bessarabia)||1904||Illinois|
|Adolph Friedman||Hungary (Debrecen)||1906||NYC|
|Nathan Friedman||Ukraine (Zhythomyr)||1911||Canada|
Friedmans from Lithuania to Jerusalem. Boris Friedman of Johannesburg gave the following account of the Friedmans who came to Jerusalem:
“An orphan boy named Hersch Zaidel was
brought to Jerusalem in Palestine in the middle of the 19th century by
a childless uncle Reb Hersch Friedman from Ponavesz in
Lithuania. Hersch Zaidel adopted the name of his uncle,
hence Hersch Friedman. At the same time some good people brought to Jerusalem a little orphan
girl of nine, Eigeleh (Eiga) from Pasvalys in Lithuania, who had lost
her mother at a very young age. Hersch married Eiga in Jerusalem
when Hersh was twenty one and Eiga was twelve. Eiga gave birth to
her first child at the age of sixteen. They had ten children, of
whom seven survived.”
Later branches of this family migrated to South Africa and Australia.
Friedmans in Natchitotes, Louisiana. A Jewish cemetery was established in Natchitotes, Louisiana in
1847. The following Friedmans were buried there.
|Friedman, Sylvan N.||1908||1979|
Milton Friedman’s Upbringing. The famous economist Milton Friedman described his growing up as follows:
“I was born July 31, 1912, in
Brooklyn, N.Y., the fourth and last child and first son of Sarah Ethel
(Landau) and Jeno Saul Friedman. My parents were born in
Carpatho-Ruthenia (then a province of Austria-Hungary). They
emigrated to the US in their teens, meeting in New York.
When I was a year old, my parents
moved to Rahway, N.J., a small town about 20 miles from New York
City. There my mother ran a small retail “dry goods” store while
my father engaged in a succession of mostly unsuccessful “jobbing”
ventures. The family income was small and highly uncertain.
Financial crisis was a constant companion. Yet there was always
enough to eat and the family atmosphere was warm and supportive.
Along with my sisters, I attended
public elementary and secondary schools, graduating from Rahway High
School in 1928, just before my 16th birthday. My father died
during my senior year in high school, leaving my mother plus two older
sisters to support the family. Nonetheless, it was taken for
granted that I would attend college, though, also, that I would have to
It was college which provided him with the way forward.
“I was awarded a competitive
scholarship to Rutgers University, then a relatively small university.
There I had the good fortune to be exposed to two remarkable men:
Arthur F. Burns, then teaching at Rutgers while completing his doctoral
dissertation for Columbia; and Homer Jones, teaching between spells of
graduate work at the University of Chicago.
Arthur Burns shaped my
understanding of economic research, introduced me to the highest
scientific standards, and became a guiding influence on my subsequent
career. Homer Jones introduced me to rigorous economic theory,
made economics exciting and relevant, and encouraged me to go on to
Lily Friedman’s Wedding Gown. Lily Friedman doesn’t remember the last name of the woman who
designed and sewed the wedding gown she wore when she walked down the
aisle more than 60 years ago. But the grandmother of seven does
recall that when she first told her fiancé Ludwig that she had always
dreamed of being married in a white gown.
She had been raised with her siblings in a Torah-observant
home in the small town of Zarica, Czechoslovakia where her father was a
melamed (teacher), respected and well liked by the young yeshiva
students he taught in nearby Irsheva. He and his two sons were
marked for extermination immediately upon arriving at Auschwitz.
For Lily and her sisters it was only their first stop on their long
journey of persecution, which included Plashof, Neustadt, Gross-Rosen
and finally Bergen-Belsen.
On January 27, 1946, four hundred people marched 15 miles in
the snow to the town of Celle to attend Lily and Ludwig’s
wedding. The town synagogue, damaged and desecrated, had been
lovingly renovated by the DPs with the meager materials available to
them. When a sefer Torah arrived from England, they converted an
old kitchen cabinet into a makeshift Aron Kodesh.
When President Truman finally permitted the 100,000
Jews who had been languishing in DP camps since the end of the war to
emigrate in 1948, the gown accompanied Friedman across the ocean to
America. Unable to part with her dress, it lay at the bottom of
bedroom closet in Brooklyn for the next fifty years: “not even good
enough for a garage sale. I was happy when it found such a good
Friedman’s dress had one more journey to make — the
Bergen-Belsen museum which opened on October 28, 2007. The German
government invited Friedman and her sisters to be their guests for the
grand opening. Although they initially declined the invitation, the
family finally traveled to Hanover the following year with their
children, their grandchildren and extended families to view the
extraordinary exhibit created for the wedding dress made from a
Select Friedman Names
- Joseph Friedman, a first generation American, was an independent inventor with a broad range of interests and ideas. His most
successful invention was probably the flexible drinking straw.
- Milton Friedman was probably
the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century. A monetarist in his approach, he was a recipient of the
Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976.
- Herbert Friedman was a pioneer
in rocket technology in relation to solar physics and astronomy.
- Thomas Friedman, the author of The World is Flat, is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer on foreign affairs for the New York Times.
Select Friedman Numbers
- 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 23,000 in America (most numerous
in New York)
- 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).
Select Friedman and Like Jewish Surnames
The Jews were banned from England in 1290 and did not return there until the 1650’s, sometimes in the form of Portuguese traders. They were to make their mark as merchants and financers in London and many families prospered. There was another larger Jewish influx in the late 1800’s.
In America the early settlement of Sephardic Jews was in Charleston, South Carolina. In the 19th century Ashkenazi Jews started to arrive from Germany. Later came a larger immigration from a wider Jewish diaspora. Between 1880 and 1910 it is estimated that around two million Yiddish-speaking Jews, escaping discrimination and pogroms, arrived from the Russian empire and other parts of Eastern Europe.
Some Jewish surnames reflect ancient Biblical names, such as Cohen and Levy. Some have come from early place-names where Jews resided, such as Dreyfus (from Trier), Halpern (from Heilbronn) and Shapiro (from Speyer). Many more surnames came about when Ashkenazi Jews were compelled by Governments to adopt them in the early 1800’s. The names chosen at that time were often ornamental ones – Bernstein or Goldberg or Rosenthal for example. Then the name could change on arrival in America at Ellis Island. And finally anti-Semitism perceived could cause further changes to conceal Jewishness.
Here are the stories of some of the Jewish surnames that you can check out here.
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