Samuelson Surname Genealogy

is patronymic (son of Samuel) and derived from
the Hebrew name Shmuel, meaning “name of God.”
Samuel was the last of the ruling judges in the Old
Testament.  He anointed both Saul and David
as kings of
The Samuelson name found its way into the English-speaking world via

  • from Scandinavian arrivals.  The
    spelling was Samuelsson in Sweden and Samuelsen in Denmark and Norway.
  • and from
    Jewish arrivals. Here Samuelson would have
    been the equivalent of Ben Shmuel and later Samuelsohn.

Samuelson Resources on

Samuelson Ancestry

Scotland.   The Shetland islands to the north of Scotland
had remained under Viking control until 1472 when they were finally
annexed by
the Scottish Crown.  Norse heritage and
names remained there.  The Norse
name of Samuelson was to be found in
in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly in the
island of Unst.  

England.  The Samuelsons in
England were few in number (less than 90 in the 1881 census) and were
Jewish in
origin.  There were two notable lines
here, one from affluent German Jews and the other from Polish

The first Samuelsons were originally Samuels
from Hamburg.  Hyman Samuel, born in
London, became prosperous as a silversmith and watchmaker in Baltimore.  He died in Jamaica in 1813.
His son Samuel Samuelson, brought to Hull at
an early age, was the forebear of the English Samuelsons:

  • his son Sir
    Bernhard Samuelson
    made his name as an industrialist in
    Oxfordshire. He served as its MP from 1858 to 1895 and was made a
  • while two of Bernhard’s sons, Henry and
    Godfrey, were also Liberal MP’s.  

Samuelson had changed his name from Metzenberg to Samuelson in 1846
his arrival in Dublin from Leszno in Poland.
He became a successful tailor in Dublin and moved to London and
a shop
off Saville Row in 1871.

His brother
Henschel, who also changed his name, made his home in Southport,
Lancashire as
a tobacconist.  He died soon after the
birth of his son G.B. Samuelson (known as Bertie) in 1889.
Despite this unpromising beginning, Bertie
emerged as one of the pioneers of British cinema in the silent film era:

  • one of his sons
    appointed the first British Film Commissioner in 1991; while another
    won an Oscar for his contributions to camera and lighting.  
  • and Sidney’s son Peter has been a successful film
    producer in both the UK and US.

America.  Samuelsons here have been
a mix of
Scandinavian and Jewish origin. 

Scandinavian.  These immigrants came in
the mid/late 1800’s,
generally to states in the upper Midwest.
Among the arrivals were:

  • Svend
    Samuelson who came from Norway in 1854 and farmed in Wisconsin.  
  • Swan Peter Samuelson who came from Sweden in the late
    1860’s and farmed
    in Henry county, Illinois.  His grandson
    Don Samuelson, born at his farmstead at Woodhull, became Governor of
    Idaho in
  • Alexander Samuelson, a glass engineer, who
    emigrated from Sweden to Indiana in 1883.  There
    designed the Coca-Cola contour
     which was introduced in 1916 and
  • Anders
    and two of his siblings who came from Norway to
    Milwaukee around
    the year 1890.  Anders later departed to
    homestead in North Dakota.
  • and Charles Samuelson who left Sweden for Wabash county,
    Minnesota in the early 1900’s.  His son Ralph is credited with
    having invented the sport of water-skiing.

Jewish.  The Samuelson Jewish incomers were less
focused on the Midwest:

  • Max Samuelson,
    for instance, came to Vermont from Poland in the early 1880’s.  Starting from nothing, he helped develop the
    Jewish community in Burlington.
  • while Yehuda Ben Schmuel arrived in New York
    from Russia in the early 1900’s and became Julius Samuelson in America
    after leaving Ellis Island.  He and his
    family settled in Chicago and his
    descendants in Louisiana and Texas.  They
    have held Samuelson family

    since 1985.

Frank and Ella Samuelson were Jewish immigrants from
Poland who had
come to Gary, Indiana in 1908.  Their son
Paul Samuelson, born there in 1915, became the famous economist. 
He spent his career at MIT where he was instrumental
in turning its Department of Economics into a world-renowned

Samuelson’s family included many well-known economists, including
Robert Summers, sister-in-law Anita Summers, brother-in-law Kenneth
Arrow and nephew Larry Summers.
Curiously his brothers Robert and Harold had both elected when
young to
change their names from Samuelson to Summers.

Canada.  Lesser Samuelsohn
had immigrated to Rochester, New York from Poland in the early 1900’s.  He was a master tailor who in 1923 moved to
Montreal where he established an international reputation.
His tailoring business was handed down to his
grandsons Michael and Richard.  

South Africa.  Ben Schmuelson left
Lithuania for South Africa
in the early 1900’s.  He settled in
A neighbor asked him in 1925:

“You are so poor and yet you have six children.
Would it not be easier for you if you had
had one less?”  He smiled and replied: “And
which one
should I not have had?

Samuelson Miscellany

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

Samuelson Names

Ralph Samuelson is considered the
father of water-skiing, having developed the first prototype skis in
Paul Samuelson
, awarded the Nobel Prize for
Economics in 1970, has been called the father of modern economics.

Sir Sidney Samuelson
was appointed the first British Film
Commissioner in 1991

Select Samuelsons Today

  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in UK)




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