Marks Surname Genealogy

From the Mark of the Gospels and the Roman Marcus
came the English Marks and the German Marx surnames.
Marx is also a Jewish name. It was
possibly an acronym of the first two
letters of the Hebrew masiach plus the Hebrew rendering of the
Latin rex. Marx often became Marks
in England and

Marx/Marks Resources on

Marx/Marks Ancestry

Marx number some 35-40,000 in Germany today.
The name is mainly to be found along
the Rhine in Saarland and the Rheinland Palatinate and also in Alsace.
Lord Hans
was a legendary figure from Eckwersheim in Alsace in
the 15th century. There was once a wider Jewish Marx diaspora
extending into the former Russian Empire. But
this has largely disappeared.

Karl Marx, the author of the Communist Manifesto and Das
was born in 1818 in Trier on the lower Rhine.
The family, originally Mordechai, had been
rabbis in Trier since the early 1700’s.
But his father, at a time of anti-semiticism, abandoned
the Jewish faith and adopted the
Marx name. Karl Marx, when rendered
stateless, would spend the latter part of his life writing out of the
Museum in London.

The forebears of the
Marx brothers in America have been traced back to the early 1800’s and
the town
of Hochfelden in the Bas-Rhin area of Alsace.

England. Marks figured
at an early date as a surname in the west country, primarily in Devon

West Country. In Devon, one Marks line in Devon began in
1560 with the birth of Harry Marks in Totnes.
Richard Marks meanwhile was
recorded as marrying Agnes Lang in Barnstaple in 1540. These
Marks were later to be found in Crediton and South Tawton before moving
to Launceston in Cornwall.
Four Hannibal

featured during their stay in Cornwall, the last
named departing for New Zealand in 1845 and serving as harbormaster at
until his death by drowning in 1879

In Somerset, the Old English word maerc,
meaning “mark” or “border,” gave rise to a place-name Mark and may have
rise to the Marke and Marks surname there as well.
The surname surfaced in the parish registers
of West Buckland in the 1600’s and later was to be found at Odcombe and

London and Elsewhere. Larger Marks
numbers have been
in London, probably
as the result of Jewish immigration.

Bevis Marks synagogue in London, opened in 1701, is
the oldest surviving synagogue in England.
But Bevis Marks comes from an earlier place-name and is not
Jewish in
origin. A Marks family were members of
the Great Synagogue at Dukes Place in the early 1700’s.
The names recorded at that time were
Zachariah, David, Solomon and Alexander Marks.
It is thought that Mordecai Marks, who later emigrated to
America, also
came from this family.

Woolf Marks was a
Jewish merchant in London in the early 1800’s. His son David was
a rabbi and a leader of Reform Judaism in Victorian times. His
grandsons Harry and Claud both distinguished themselves – the former as
a newspaper editor and publisher and the latter as a soldier with the
British army during the Boer War.

Marks, born in London in 1786, was also a Jewish
merchant of the early 1800’s. His son
Morris emigrated to South Australia in 1846.
Another Jewish Marks family had settled first in Portsmouth and
later in
Exeter from whence Joseph Marks departed for Melbourne, Australia in

Michael Marks had arrived in England from
Belorussia in the Russian Empire in 1882.
He moved to Leeds where he started trading out of market stalls. In 1894 he started the retail company of Marks
and Spencer
. This was taken
and expanded by his son Simon after Michael’s death in 1907. Simon
it was who introduced the St. Michael
brand in the store in honor of his father.

America. Peter
Marks, thought to have come from Suffolk and said to
have married Lady Betty Hastings, emigrated to Virginia sometime in the
1730’s. Three of their sons married into
notable families:

  • John
    married the widow
    of Colonel William Lewis, the mother of Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and
  • Hastings married Ann Cary Jefferson,
    the sister of President Jefferson.
  • and
    James married Elizabeth Harvie, “one of nine brothers and sisters whose
    aggregate weight was 2,700 pounds.”

died in 1811 in Virginia and his widow moved to Monticello. John and James migrated to Georgia in the
1780’s. Their lines were covered in
Pettigrew and Brightwell’s 1981 book The
Marks-Barnett Families and Their Kin

The Rev. John Marks was a Baptist minister who was born in Montgomery
county, Pennsylvania in 1716.
the 1750’s he moved to Loudoun county, Virginia to establish Baptist
churches there. Three of his sons fought in the Revolutionary War
and were granted lands in Kentucky.

German. German
and Jewish numbers have been much larger than the English numbers among
the Marks and
Marx entrants
into America.

The Marx name first
appeared, generally as Marks, among German arrivals into Pennsylvania
in the 18th century. Included in that number was Nicholas Marks
who married Eva Schneider in the early 1700’s. Their descendants
migrated westward to Ohio and Michigan.

. Mordecai
Marks was a Jewish immigrant from London to Stamford,
Connecticut in 1729. At that time he
changed his faith to Christian and married.

The Marks name cropped up in the Jewish community in Philadelphia
before and after the Revolutionary War. Levy
Marks was recorded as a tailor there in 1760. Michael
Marks, a merchant and saddler,
arrived there from London in the 1780’s.
Humphrey and Frances Marks, also from London, made their home in
South Carolina on arrival in 1783.

Marxes began arriving in America around the time of the Civil
War. Aaron Marx, who enlisted as a
soldier, and his wife Sarah settled in Baltimore where Aaron was shown
first as a peddler and then as a cigar-maker. Leopold Marks,
fleeing conscription in Germany, arrived penniless in New York in
1868. He managed to make a little money to work his way southward
to the Mississippi Delta where he prospered as a general store-keeper
and merchant. The county seat of Marks in Quitman county was
named after him.

New York was the hub for many of the subsequent Marx immigrants:

  • Sam Marx – known was Frenchy because he came from Alsace – who
    was a dance teacher in New York when he married Minnie Schoenberg in
    1884. Their sons were the famous Marx brothers who burst
    into vaudeville in 1905 and had a long stage and screen career.
  • Jacob Marx who arrived from Austria in the 1890’s and started a
    small wooden toy business in Brooklyn. His son Louis Marx
    expanded the business greatly with his brother David and was by the
    1950’s described as the owner of the largest toy business in the world.
  • a Marx family who came in 1895 and started up a butcher’s shop in
    They moved to New Jersey in the early 1900’s and, as Marx Foods,
    have been distributing fine meats over five generations to restaurants
    across the United States.
  • and
    another Sam Marx, born in 1902 and the son of a tailor in New York, who
    made his mark as a screenwriter and producer at MGM Studios in

South Africa. Sammy Marks,
born in Lithuania, came out to the Cape
colony in 1859 and at first made his living peddling jewelry. He later moved to Pretoria where he was one
of the early entrepreneurs at the time of the diamond boom. He prospered.
In 1886

he built for himself and his family a grand 40 room
Victorian mansion. It
soon became well-known to celebrities and dignitaries
visiting South Africa. This house,
t Zwartkoppies
to the east of Pretoria, has been preserved as a museum

Australia and
New Zealand
. There were Marks and Marx arrivals during the
19th century, from England, Ireland and Germany. The
most notable of these were Jewish
arrivals from England, including:

  • Joseph
    and Julia Marks and their large family
    from Exeter who came on the Cotfield to
    South Australia in 1853, moving to Victoria three years later. Their descendants became the leading
    wholesale jewelers in the Melbourne area in the 1920’s.
  • and
    Marks, a jeweler from London, who arrived in Sydney via New Zealand in
    1880. His son Percy established his
    renowned jewelry shop on Market Street in Sydney in 1900.
    He made his name in promoting the opal
    gem. His business has continued through
    three generations of Marks.

Percy Marks in Sydney, born there in
1867, acted from 1912 as the unofficial historian of Australian Jewry. His brother Ernest was a prominent sportsman
who was later the touring manager for the Australian teams at the
Olympic Games
of 1908, 1912 and 1932

Marx/Marks Miscellany

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

Marx/Marks Names

Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto and Das
, was born in Germany but became stateless and spent much of
his later life in London.
Sammy Marks was a Jewish
entrepreneur in South Africa who grew rich during the diamond boom
times of the 1880’s.
Michael Marks, born into a Belarussian family, was the founder of the
department store Marks & Spencer in 1894.  

The Marx Brothers
– Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Gummo and Zeppo –
were comedy stars in vaudeville, Broadway, and film from 1905 to the

Marx/Marks Today

  • 14,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 25,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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