Landry Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Landry Surname Meaning

Landry as a name is Germanic in meaning – from land meaning “land” or “fatherland” and ric meaning “powerful” or “rich”. But it was to be found in France from very early times. Saint Landry was recorded as the Bishop of Seez as early as 450 AD and that were two more saints later on with the same name.  

For this reason Landry became popular as a male given name in France in medieval times. Landry also emerged as a surname – although it has not been that common in France.

Landry Surname Resources on The Internet

Landry Surname Ancestry

  • from France
  • to Canada and America

French history records some French Landrys, but not that many. The Landrys today in France amount to less than 5,000. The name did appear in villages around Loudon in Poitou in the mid-17th century. This area was the place of origin for a significant number of the Acadians, one of the early founding people of New France in Canada.

Canada. The forefather of the Landrys in AcadiaRené l’aine or René le jeune?

Many investigators have named René Landry the elder (René l’aine), a native of La Chaussée near Loudun. He arrived in Acadia around 1640 and married Perrine Bourg there. But a stronger case has been made for René Landry the younger (René le jeune). He came with his wife Marie Bernard around the year 1659. Landry descents in Acadia have usually started with this René rather than with René l’aine.

After the initial arrivals into Port Royal, the Landry numbers expanded, being mainly centered after 1690 around Grand Pre and Pisguit in present-day Nova Scotia. But they – like other Acadians – were subject to the British Expulsions in 1755. Some 3,000 Acadians were rounded up into ships and deported – a considerable number to Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia, many to France, and many eventually to what was then French Louisiana.

New Brunswick.  A few Landrys managed to remain in New Brunswick.

“In the spring of 1756 Alexis Landry – along with other Acadians – decided to go north to the Miramichi river, hoping to escape from British raids and to make a living by hunting and fishing. They went through a terrible winter of war, famine, and pestilence. More than 350 Acadians perished, including five of Alexis’s own children. It seems that in the spring of 1757 Alexis was able to make his way to Caraquet on the Baie de Chaleurs with a few other Acadian families.”  

Landry’s family was among those that were granted lands there on the northeast coast by the New Brunswick Government in 1784.

The village of Memramcook on the southeast coast survived the English deportations and subsequently became an important center for Acadian culture. René and Madeleine Landry arrived there in the 1760’s and Landrys were prominent in the community from that time. Amand Landry and his son Pierre-Amand represented Westmorland county in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick for a long period of time – from the 1840’s to the 1880’s. In 1916 Pierre-Amand Landry became the first Acadian to be knighted.

Cap-Pelé nearby has the Julien Landry house, a wood-frame house that was built around 1875 and is typical of an Acadian famer’s house of that time. His son Patrick built a flour mill and a sawmill there; while his grandson Joseph started a lobster processing plant in 1948 and later became a Canadian Senator.

Quebec. Some of the exiled Landrys in Massachusetts were able to return to French Quebec around the year 1767. Five Landry families from there ended up along the Yamachiche river in Quebec; while Germain Landry and his family had settled nearby at l’Assomption. Their line ran to Bernard Landry, born in 1937, who became Premier of Quebec in 2001.  

America. A sizeable number of exiled Landrys had reached Louisiana during the 1760’s. Olivier Landry arrived via Georgia in 1764.

It seems that the bulk of these early Landrys came from Maryland where a large number had initially been exiled. At least nine families arrived from there in 1767 and five more the following year. All of them eventually settled in present-day Ascension and Iberville parishes.

Of particular genealogical interest here has been Firmin Landry, whose ancestry would seem to connect him back to René Landry le jeune. He had migrated by 1670 into the Teche country of the Attakapas. Many of his descendants remained in the Teche area.

One of the most distinguished lines stemming from the Maryland exiles was that of Joseph Landry:

  • his son Joseph was named commandant of the Acadians of Ascension parish. He developed a large indigo plantation at New Hope above Donaldsonville and his six sons all became sugar planters there in antebellum days.
  • one of these sons Jean-Trasimond was elected Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana in 1845 and by 1860 had become the leading slaveholder in the state.

The Civil War and its aftermath saw the financial ruin of wealthy families such as the Landrys. Many of their descendants have remained in Ascension and adjacent parishes. Pierre C. Landry, born a slave in Ascension parish in 1841, managed to better himself. He became a Methodist minister, a local mayor, and served as a Louisiana state senator in 1874.

The ancestry of Tom Landry, the football coach of the Dallas Cowboys, is Acadian, but not via Louisiana. His line ran through Quebec, Manitoba, Illinois, and finally to Mission, Texas where Tom was born in 1924.

Landry Surname Miscellany

French Landrys.  There were three Landrys to note in French history.

The first was the medieval nobleman Geoffrey de la Tour Landry.  He was based in Anjou and lived between the years 1300 and 1400.  He was best known for the book he wrote for his daughter. This book – Livre pour L’enseignement de Ses Filles –  became popular as a medieval educational treatise.

The second was the bookseller and engraver Pierre Landry. Born in 1603 and initially based in Lyon, he was employed by a number of booksellers in engraving frontispieces, portraits and other subjects.

Last on this list was Jean Baptiste Octave Landry who was born in Limoges in 1826.  He was the doctor credited with discovering what became known as Landry’s syndrome.  Landry’s syndrome is a progressive and ascending paralysis that starts with the lower limbs and quickly reaches the trunk and then the upper limbs. This condition, also called acute ascending paralysis and usually followed by rapid death, is rare.

Jean Baptiste died in 1865 a relatively young man, having caught cholera from the patients that he had been treating.

Rene L’aine or Rene Le Jeune?  Many investigators have named René Landry the elder (René l’aine), a native of La Chaussée near Loudun as the forefather of the Landrys in Acadia.  He arrived around 1640 and married Perrine Bourg there.  But a stronger case has been made for René Landry the younger (René le jeune).  Landry descents in Acadia have tended to start with this René rather than with René l’aine.

Some have attempted to link the two Renés as father and son.  However, that is questionable.  René L’aine arrived in Acadia around 1640; whereas René le jeune came in 1659 – suggesting a separation would have existed between the two.  Father Archange Godbout – who was in his time one of the most outstanding genealogists in French Canada – stated plainly in his Dictionanaire des Acadiens that the second René Landry, born in 1634, “came from France with his wife.”

But then where did René le jeune come from?

Some researchers have shown René le jeune to be the son of a Jean-Claude Landry and Marie Sale. Writing in the publication Familles Acadienne, Father Leopold Lanctot reported as follows:

“It all began in the year 1640 when a group of ten from the Landry family came to Acadia from France. The Landry family were originally from La Ventrouze, near Mortagne-au-Perche in the Department of Orne. They were encouraged to come to Acadia by Marguerite Landry, daughter of Jean-Claude, and her husband Robert Martin. They had been in Acadia for several years.”

It has been suggested that Jean-Claude was in fact a Micmac Indian. However, there is no evidence that this Jean-Claude Landry ever existed.

Despite all the confusion up to this point, it is agreed that René Landry le jeune and Marie Bernard were married and in Acadia by 1659.  Together they had fifteen children, all born at Port Royal.

Acadian Landrys in France.  Pierre Landry and his family were among the 340 Acadians that arrived in 1756 at Southampton and were put into barracks on the wharves. Resettlement was finally arranged and the Landrys then sailed for St. Malo in France.

They were not long in France when they realized they were truly Acadian and not French.  France had pretty much ignored the Acadians in Nova Scotia for over one hundred years.  Therefore they had grown apart as a people and would never again be the same as their compatriots in France – not in custom nor in language. Over the years their manner of speaking had evolved into a different French.

The Marquis Perusse des Cars gave the Acadians some of his land to farm.  But the 1,500 Acadians who migrated to the Poitou area found the soil sterile and there was very little housing.  Almost all of the Acadians that had arrived there in hope left there for Nantes.

When Spain in 1785 offered to pay for seven ships to transport the Acadians from France to Louisiana, the Acadians saw it as a good time to start life anew.  Pierre Landry and his family were among the passengers on Le Bergere that departed France for Louisiana at that time.

Olivier Landry, Early Louisiana Settler.  Olivier Landry of Chignecto had been deported with his family to Georgia in 1755.  He moved to Charleston in 1763, followed back to Georgia, and then went to Louisiana via Mobile, Alabama, in late 1763 and early 1764.

The Landrys and their three related families from Chignecto left Savannah in December 1763 aboard the Savannah Packet and sailed to Mobile “from which place they were to go to New Orleans,” proclaimed an article in the Georgia Gazette the following day.   After a short stay in Mobile, which then belonged to the hated British, they reached New Orleans in February 1764.

After overseeing the baptism of several of their children at New Orleans and consulting with authorities, the Landrys and the other Acadians moved upriver to the recently-established concession of Cabanocé, later called St.Jacques, where they settled on a bend in the Mississippi along the right bank in present-day St. James parish. Cabanocé thus became the first Acadian community in Louisiana, predating the Bayou Teche settlement by a full year.

Tom Landry’s Ancestry.  Tom Landry the football coach has Acadian ancestry. It originated from Pierre Landry who was born in Port Royal, Nova Scotia in 1751.  After the British Expulsions of 1755, he and his family made their way to Quebec where the family was the remain for the next hundred years.

Stanislaus Landry, however, was a farmer and lumberjack out in Manitoba.  When he was young he crossed the border into Wisconsin and fought in the Civil War.  He afterwards settled in Illinois.  His grandson Ray, an automobile mechanic, moved with his family from Illinois to Texas upon the recommendations of doctors who believed the warmer climate would help his rheumatism.  Tom, his second son, was born in Mission, Texas in 1924.

Landry Names

  • René Landry the younger (René le jeune) seems to have been the forefather of the Acadian Landrys in Canada and Louisiana.  
  • Pierre C. Landry was the first African American to be a mayor in America, having been elected to that position in Donaldsonville, Louisiana in 1868. 
  • Tom Landry was a much-acclaimed American football coach. He coached the Dallas Cowboys for twenty-nine years. He led the Cowboys to a record five Super Bowl appearances in the nine years between 1970 and 1978. 
  • Bernard Landry, leader of the Parti Quebecois, served as the Premier of Quebec from 2001 to 2003.

Landry Numbers Today

  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Louisiana)
  • 43,000 elsewhere (almost all in Canada)

Landry and Like Surnames

These are French-originated names, French Canadian surnames that were brought by French settlers to what was then New France.  Many are found in Louisiana after the Acadian exodus from the Canadian maritime provinces in the 18th century.  Here are some of the French surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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