Lang Surname Genealogy
The derivation is the pre-7th century word lang meaning
“tall” found in Old German, Dutch, Danish, English and Scots. Its use as a surname probably followed the
name being used as a nickname for a tall person.
The Lang spelling has
occurred in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary, as well
Scotland (where the spelling can also be Laing); while Lange has been
version in northern Germany and Scandinavia.
Long developed as the surname in England.
place-name Lang City in the ancient state of Lu adopted by the grandson
subsequent descendants of its ruler. Lang was also
adopted as a surname because it was a homophone for the Chinese word
Lang Resources on
- The Otto and Susanna Lange Family
Langes from Russia to America.
- The Lang Family
Langs from Scotland to Australia.
Langs and Langes number some 180,000 in Germany today. There are a further 30,000 Langs in other
German-speaking countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. Langes meanwhile total around 15,000 in
Scandinavia. There is also a smattering
in Belgium and Poland.
Most of the Langs
and Langes who came to America originated from Germany.
Some were from Scandinavia and a few from
Russia but, like Otto and Susanna
were from a German-speaking part of Russia.
England. There were early evidences of
Lang as a
surname in England. The name Aetheric
Langa appeared in Northamptonshire in 972; while Leofwine Lange
recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles in 1070.
But the pronunciation and spelling soon
became Long in most parts of the country.
The exception has been Devon where Lang as a surname first appeared in
the 14th century and has prevailed.
However, some have suggested that Lang here might have come from
place-name Langdon in south Devon.
Other Langs or Laings in England will generally be of Scots
descent. David Laing, for instance, moved from Scotland to
Cumberland in 1800. His descendants developed the John Laing
construction company in Carlisle. It remaine family-held through
six generations before its sale in 2006.
Scotland. Here the pattern was
the other way. Early
documents showed Longus and Long spellings. But then the surnames
became Lang and Laing.
Laings outnumber Langs in Scotland by about
three to two. Laing has been found
along the east coast, from Edinburgh up to the Highlands and Orkney:
- a Laing
family first found near Edinburgh
included John Laing, the Bishop of Glasgow in 1474.
John Laing built Redhouse Castle near
Edinburgh in the 1590’s.
- Laings were also
prominent in the Highlands by this time.
- and the
early 17th century saw many Laings move to Orkney.
Later Laings from here included Malcolm
Laing, a Scottish historian of the early 1800’s, and Alexander Laing,
explorer who discovered Timbuktu in 1826 and then was murdered by his
Lang name has been more concentrated in the
Lowlands in Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.
Langs have had a long connection with the town of Paisley in
Renfrewshire ever since its founding in 1488.
Ireland. As an Irish surname
Lang is thought to have originated from the Gaelic surname O’Longain. The main numbers
have been in Sligo, notably in Ballysadare parish.
Lang has also cropped up in Armagh and
elsewhere in Ulster.
America. There were some
early Lang and Laing arrivals from England and Scotland:
Lang from Devon was first recorded in Portsmouth in 1673 as a fisherman
Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire. These
Langs were recorded through five generations nearby at
Creek in H.P. Moore’s 1935 book A
Genealogy of the Lang Family.
- while John Laing was a Quaker from Aberdeen who came with
other Scottish Quakers to Plainfield, New Jersey in 1685. The
Laing House of this Plainfield plantation still stands and has been
listed as a historic house.
Langs of Camden county, Georgia descended from the Sagamore Creek Langs. Isaac Lang was the first of the family to
move there, in the early 1790’s, and his descendants remained prominent
county affairs for the next hundred years.
His son William Lang
a plantation there in 1820. David Lang,
son of William’s brother Robert, was a Confederate officer during the
and later a Florida politician.
largest number of Lang immigrants to America was from German-speaking
lands. They began arriving into
Pennsylvania in the early 1700's as religious refugees.
These early Langs, however, generally
anglicized their names to Long:
- this was
the case with Christian Lang who arrived from the Palatine in 1718 and
Lang from Hesse in 1722. Both settled
with their families as Longs in Lancaster county.
- George Lang meanwhile
in Philadelphia in 1751. He settled in
North Carolina in 1765 as George Long.
Some did remain Lang, such as the descendants of the
War veteran George Lang who was born in Bucks county in 1761. A number of his grandchildren fought as Langs
in the Civil War. However, these Langs
were Presbyterian in their religion – suggesting a Scottish ancestry.
Lang had migrated from upstate New York in the 1840’s to Ohio, to
later to Iowa and Nebraska. His son William Lang made his mark in
Colorado where, during a brief career in the 1880’s, he proved himself
one of the best residential architects the city has known.
Captain Oscar Lange was an early immigrant to
the Midwest from Europe. Born in Sweden,
he had first come to Boston in 1824 at the age of 13 to work as a
seaman. He came to Chicago in 1838 and
later was honored there as the oldest living Swedish immigrant in
Wisconsin was a
popular destination for Langes. A family
from Thuringia in Germany first began arriving in 1846.
They made their home in Jamestown township in
SW Wisconsin. Friedrich Lange came from
Posen in Prussia in 1866 and settled in Juneau county seven years later. August
Lange, also from Prussia, came to
Milwaukee in 1882. Meanwhile George
Oscar Lange arrived in Minnesota from Germany around the year 1910. His grand-daughter was the actress Jessica
Caribbean. Laings from Scotland came to Caribbean
plantations in the 18th century. Dr.
James Laing of Haddo, a medical man, acquired three estates in Dominica
1790’s. Malcolm Laing meanwhile had arrived to Jamaica earlier as an
for absentee plantation owners and became a Kingston merchant.
The Laing name remains in Jamaica. Isaiah
Laing has been dubbed “supercop” for
his work in the Jamaican constabulary between 1976 and 1996.
Australia. Australia had
two early Scots-born Lang immigrants:
- the first, Walter Lang, did not last long. He arrived
as a settler on the convict ship Minstrel in 1812 and built a fine
house for himself, Clydesdale House, in Parramatta. But he was
dead in 1816 at the age of 27. His son John became a journalist
in Australia and its first Australian-born novelist.
- the second, George Lang from Renfrewshire, arrived in Sydney
in 1821 and secured land along the Paterson river in Hunter
Valley. He too died young in 1825, at the age of 23. But
his father and brothers were able to establish the Dunmore estate on this
land. Another brother was J.D. Lang, the fiery Presbyterian
minister who became an early advocate for an independent Australia.
Lang, or “the
Big Fella,” as he was later known, became one of the most controversial
politicians in Australian history. Born
in 1876 into an impoverished Scots-Irish immigrant family (his father
Scottish, his mother Irish), he rose in Labor party ranks to be twice
of New South Wales. His second tenure
coincided with the onset of the Great Depression. He
advocated a more expansionary policy than
the Federal Government would contemplate and he was dismissed from his
1932. He was never in power again
although he remained active in politics.
His life was long and he died in 1975 at the age of 98.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Cosmo Lang, the
son of a Scots Presbyterian minister, was Archbishop of Canterbury during the time of the
controversial abdication crisis of 1936.
R.D. Laing was a Scottish
psychiatrist who wrote innovately about issues of mental health. His best known work was the 1960 book The Divided Self.
David Lange served as New Zealand’s Prime Minister between
1984 and 1989.
Jessica Lange is
a highly acclaimed American actress.
K.D. Lang is
a popular Canadian country singer/songwriter
Select Langs Today
- 23,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 37,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 17,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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