Hanson Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Hanson Meaning
of Hans” was the basis for the surname Hansen found in Denmark, Norway
and in the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg that are
closest to Denmark. Hansson is the Swedish spelling. Both
names have 20th century Prime Ministers – H.C. Hansen of Denmark in the
1950’s and Per Albin Hansson of Sweden in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Son of Hann” was thought to have been the basis for the English
surname Hanson. Hann, a popular personal name in Yorkshire in the
13th century, could have been the abbreviated form of the Hebrew name
Hannah.  The names Hanson and Hansen both came to America.
Select Hanson/Hansen Resources on The Internet

Hanson/Hansen Ancestry

The Scandinavian population of
Hansens and Hanssons in Denmark, Norway and Sweden is approximately
260,000 today. It is estimated that some 15,000 made the journey
to America, with the peak years of migration being in the late
1800’s. On arrival a large number anglicized their name to
Many did remain Hansen.

The Hanson and Hansen population
in America
is close to 95,000 today. Some of the early
Hansons had come from England.

. The Hanson surname has its origins in Yorkshire, near
the town of Halifax. The line began with local landowner Roger de
Rastrick. His grandson John, the son of Henry, became known as
Henson which later became Hanson. Later lines are thought to

  • the Hansons of Normanton where Hanson House, a timber-frame house of the 15th century, still
    stands. Sir
    Levett Hanson, a childhood friend of Horatio Nelson, was of this
  • Christopher Hanson recorded at Arthington in Addle parish in
    1640. He was the forebear of the Hanson traders in the Levant
    during the 19th century.
  • and Thomas Hanson, one of the early settlers in Dover, New
    Hampshire in 1658.

Mary Hanson, a Yorkshire farmer’s wife, started a horse-drawn haulage
business for wool in Huddersfield in 1848. This family business
with Robert Hanson until the 1940’s. His son, James Edward
was to prove himself a master of the arts of corporate takeover and
asset-stripping. He died as Lord Hanson in 2004, one of the most
admired businessmen of the Thatcher era.

The Captain
Thomas Hansen
who led the Christian missionaries to New
Zealand in 1814 probably came from a Danish community that had settled
in London after the Great Fire in 1666.

America. Despite the myths of his Swedish origin,
John Hanson – the acting President of the Continental Congress at the
time of the Revolutionary War – was of English ancestry. His
grandfather, also named John, had been transported to Maryland as an
indentured servant in 1661 and sold to Edward Keene of Calvert county,
Maryland. The family had then grown wealthy and John’s father,
Samuel, was the owner of the Mulberry
Grove plantation in Charles

Samuel Hanson fought in the Revolutionary War. His
son, Judge Samuel, migrated to Kentucky in
1807 and was the father of four sons who fought in the Civil War, one
Charles a
colonel in the Union army who survived the war and another Roger, known
as “Old Flintlock,”
general on the Confederate side who died on the battlefield in 1863

Scandinavian Influx.
The main
influx of Hansons and Hansens from Scandinavia began in the 1870’s,
into Minnesota and other states of the Upper Midwest.

Iver and Olina Hanson came from Norway to
Danvers, Minnesota in the 1870’s. Like
a number of others, they later migrated north to Manitoba in Canada, in
their case to Clanwilliam, when land became available for
homesteading in 1903.

Hanson family was Lutheran
and wanted one of their sons to become a pastor. The
youngest was chosen for this career. He
attended the Lutheran seminary in St. Paul,
Minnesota for two years. Not cut out to
be a pastor, he left the seminary and became a farmer. That was not his
either. He was very gregarious and
became a salesman for farm equipment instead.”

Olof Hanson
emigrated with his family from Sweden in 1875 and also came to
Minnesota. Although he was deaf he was
able to enrol and
graduate from Gallaudet University. In
he opened his own architectural practice in Faribault, being possibly
first deaf architect.

Hans Thomsen Hansen came to Minden, Nebraska from
Denmark in 1889 at the age of just nineteen. His eldest son, Hans Lloyd Hansen, was born five years
later. By this time the family had
given up the Danish custom of changing the last name and for Hans Lloyd
it was appropriate for him to have Hansen as the last name. Hans the father lived to be 75, the owner and
operator of a farm implement business, and died in Minden in

Today, as a result of this immigration, the Hanson and Hansen names are
mainly names
of the American West.
Most Hansons are to be found in
Minnesota, most Hansens in California.

Canada. John Hanson, a descendant of Thomas Hanson (an early
immigrant to New Hampshire), served with the British army in Quebec
during the French and Indain War and afterwards moved to New Brunswick
– first to Chamcook island and later to Bocabec. His descendants
are numerous in New Brunswick.

The Scandinavian presence in Canada did not really appear until the
early 1900’s with the opening up of new land in the Canadian West under
the Dominions Land Act of 1902 (when free farms for the million were
advertised). Around this time:

  • Hans Hanson and his family came north from Minnesota to Clanwilliam in Manitoba
  • Abe Hanson, also from Minnesota, settled in the Swan River area of Manitoba
  • the brothers Helmer and Ellert Hanson from Iowa settled
    in Lajord, Saskatchewan
  • and Christoph Hansen from Schleswig-Holstein in Germany
    also came to Saskatchewan.

The Hanson brothers were the first to introduce successfully introduce
machines for swathing and swath threshing the wheat crop in the
Canadian West, thereby reducing harvesting costs.

Australia and New Zealand. Two Danish Hansens got gold fever in Victoria:

  • according to the family story, Frederick Hansen (who
    came from a Danish family in northern Germany) jumped ship in
    Melbourne in 1855 so that he could seek his fortune in the goldfields
    of Victoria. The riches never materialized. But he married
    and raised a large family on the Upper Yarra.
  • another Dane with gold on his brain was Johan Hansen who
    arrived in 1858 and
    first tried to get lucky in Ballarat and then in New Zealand. John Hansen,
    as he became known, was one of the early settlers in Thames, North
    where he started a general store.

Andrew and Ephraim Hansen were immigrants from Sweden who
came to
Melbourne in the 1860’s. Ephraim built his home in 1899 on
property that became known as Ambleside Park. His house has been
preserved by the Australian National Trust.

Hanson Miscellany

Hansen and Hansson in Scandinavia.  Hansen
is the main spelling in Denmark and Norway, Hansson in Sweden.
following are the approximate numbers there today.

Numbers (000’s) Hanson Hansen Hansson
Sweden     5    50
Norway    75
Denmark   210
Total   290    50

Hansen and Hanson in America.  The
numbers below show the emigrants to America
according to shipping records and the rough numbers in America today.

Numbers (000’s) Hanson Hansen Hansson
Sweden    1.9    1.8    0.6
Norway    0.9    2.7
Denmark    1.0    6.3
Total    3.8   10.8    0.6
In America Today
Total    42    52    –

Note:  In addition to the Scandinavian Hanson/Hansen arrivals shown above,
there was another 4.0 from Germany and 0.4 from England.

Danes were the numerically the largest in their home country.  But
a greater
share of the Swedes emigrated, followed by the Norwegians, with the
Danes lagging behind.

Hanson Origins in Yorkshire.  According to John
Watson’s 1775 book The History of Halifax,
the earliest known
progenitor of the Hansons in Yorkshire was a certain Roger de Rastrick.  He lived around the year 1250 and was
apparently a person of some importance.
He owned land in various places in Yorkshire, England, Rastrick
one of his estates.

John de Rastrick had
a son Henry, who in turn had a son John.
In those days, when only Christian names were in use, the two
Johns of
Rastrick were doubtless confused.  In
order to distinguish them, the younger John became Henry’s son,
shortened to
Hen’s son and Henson, or Hanson as it was spelled later.  John
married Alicia, the daughter and heiress of
Hugh de Woodhouse in neighboring Eland.

T.W. Hanson’s 1920 book The Story of Old Halifax
a second Hanson surfaces.  But this
William Hanson of Halifax,
of Henry of Heaton, had
no kinship with the
of Rastrick who were living at the same time (around the 1360’s).

Captain Thomas Hansen in New Zealand.  The Rev.
Samuel Marsden who accompanied Captain Thomas Hansen to bring the first
missionaries to New Zealand in 1814 always referred to him as an
Englishman.  He had in fact been born in
London in 1762.  At the time there was a
sizeable Scandinavian community living in London, centered around Well
Square in Wapping.  They had come to
London after the Great Fire in London in 1666, being the end of a
supply line
bringing timber from Northern Europe to rebuild the town.

Hansen and his family had
come to Australia in 1807 as free settlers and acquired land near to Parramatta
and near to land owned by the Rev. Samuel Marsden who
was Chief
Chaplain for New South Wales.  That was
probably how Hansen and Marsden struck up an acquaintance and how
Hansen, a
master mariner, came to be enlisted to take Marsden to New Zealand.

When the brig Active left Port
Jackson in
November 1814, the entire Hansen family of three generations was on
board.  The Active
also carried what was described as a ‘Noah’s Ark’ by Nicholas; horses,
sheep, pigs, goats, poultry, cats and dogs intended for the mission
settlement.   Three days before
the brig dropped anchor in the small cove near Rangihoua on the east
coast of North
Island, the home of chief Ruatara.  While
surrounded by canoes from every direction, the guns of the Active
were fired as a salute to Ruatara and his people.

Hansens remained in New Zealand at Oihi on
the Bay of Islands and left a family there.
In all there were 22 grandchildren of Thomas Hansen born in New
Zealand between 1815 and
1837.  Eric Hansen’s 2014 book The Founding Family is
a history of the Hansen family in New Zealand.

The Swedish Myth About John Hanson.  In 1876 George A. Hanson had written an article entitled Old Kent:
The Eastern Shore of Maryland
and created
the hoax story that the immigrant John Hanson was one of four brothers
who had come
to the New Sweden colony along the Delaware river in 1642.

four brothers’ father, said to have been an
Englishman who had married into Swedish royalty, had died in the Battle of Lutzen, fighting next to King
Gustavus Adolphus.  It was supposed that
brothers had been sent to the New Sweden colony by Queen Christina of

birth of Hans Hanson was recorded in the colony
in 1646.  But there was no connection with
the Hanson family of Charles county, Maryland. 

Hansen and Hanson in Selected States in the West.  The table below
shows the approximate numbers of Hansons and Hansens in selected states
in the Upper Midwest and on the West Coast today.

State (000’s) Hanson Hansen
Upper Midwest
Minnesota    9.2    4.8
Wisconsin    4.9    4.5
Illinois    2.4    1.4
West Coast
Utah    0.8    5.9
Washington    3.2    4.3
Oregon    1.6    2.1
California    5.1    8.6

data would indicate that Hansons have generally stayed put more in the
Midwest; while more Hansens headed to
the West Coast in
the 20th century.  The Utah numbers may suggest a number of Danish
Hansen conversions to the Mormon faith.

The Death of John Ernest Hansen in New Zealand in 1927.  The following
article appeared in the Thames Star after
the death of John Ernest Hansen on October 3, 1927.

death of John Ernest Hansen occurred at his late residence, Hauraki
Parawai on Saturday, in his 89th year.  The late Mr. Hansen was a
very old and
highly respected resident of Thames, having arrived with the early

Born in Denmark he came out to Victoria, Australia
in 1858 and remained there until 1861, working in the mines at Bendigo
and on
the construction works of the Victorian railways.  After leaving
Australia he
came to New Zealand and took part in the Gabriel’s Gully and other
Otago gold
rushes.  After spending six years there he went in the later part
of 1867 to
Paeroa and in the following year came to Thames, where he started a
business at Shortland.  This he carried on until 1900 when it was
taken over by
his sons until 1911.

The late Mr. Hansen
took a lively interest in all public affairs, being a member of the
Borough Council in 1879, the Parawai School Committee and Thames
Committee for some time.  During the last
15 years the late Mr Hansen has lived in retirement at Parawai.  He is survived by his widow, three sons and
four daughters.”


Hanson Names

  • John Hanson was acting President of the Continental Congress at the time of the
    Revolutionary War.   
  • Roger Hanson was a Confederate general during
    the Civil War, known as “Old Flintlock.” 
  • James Edward, Lord Hanson was one of
    the most admired English businessmen of the Thatcher era, a master of the arts of corporate takeover and asset-stripping

Select Hanson/Hansen Numbers Today

  • 18,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 100,000 in America (most numerous in Minnesota)
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Hanson and Like Surnames

These were originally Scandinavian patronymic surnames, with conversion usually from the Scandinavian “-sen” and “-sson” to the American “-son” on arrival or soon afterwards.  Here are some of the Scandinavian surnames that you can check out.





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