Segal/Seigel Surname Genealogy

Segal and
Siegel appear to have been variations on the same name, particularly in
Jewish context, but they do have different origins.
Segal is a Jewish name.
The best evidence suggests
that Segal was an acronym of the Hebrew phrase segan
, a designation applied to Levites many centuries
before Segal first appeared as a surname. The name surfaced at Worms
along the
Rhineland in Germany as early as the 11th century.
One variant of the
Segal name in France was Chagall. The
painter Marc Chagall was in fact a Levite.
Siegel is Germanic in origin and can also be traced back to the 11th century, in this
case to Bavaria
. It was used then by people who made the wax seals for
documents (and were called siegelbeamters).  
Siegels outnumber Segals  in America by about three to one today.

Segal/Seigel Resources on

Segal/Siegel Ancestry

Siegels number about 15,000 in Germany today.
They started arriving in America in the 18th century. Segals may have had Germanic origins. But the Segal immigrants to America in the
late 19th century came mainly from the various parts of the Russian
that time.

England. Moshe Zvi Segal was a
Jewish rabbi from Lithuania who came to England in 1896.
One of his sons Samuel was a doctor and a Labor
party politician who as Baron Segal was the Deputy Speaker of the House
Lords in the 1970’s. Another son Ben was
a Professor of Semitic Languages at the School of Oriental and African

America. Siegels
came first, Segals followed.

Siegels. Some early Siegels were from the
Baden area in south Germany:

  • Frederick Siegel came to Pennsylvania sometime in the
    1750’s, first in
    Bucks county and later in Northampton county where he died in 1798.
  • while some
    hundred years later, Franz Sigel, part of the revolutionary government
    in Baden
    in 1848, fled to England and then to America when that revolution was
    quashed. He was a major general in the
    Unionist army during the Civil War and a newspaper editor and political
    in New York after the war. There is a
    statue of him in Riverside Park at the corner of 106th Street in

From nearby

came George Siegel as a young boy in 1848.
He later worked as a shoemaker in Cincinnati, Ohio; while John
Siegel, also from Wurttemberg, arrived in 1852
and settled four years later at Mendon township in Clayton county, Iowa.

Siegel from Dresden came to Butte, Montana in 1890 where he worked in a
brewery, a mine, and then for three years as a florist in the employ of
Knox who owned the first greenhouse in Montana. Later Victor became
superintendent of the Columbia Gardens located outside Butte.

By that time
there were Jewish Siegels in America. Three
Seigels have been:

  • Benny Siegel, known
    as Bugsy, who was born in New York in 1906 to Russian immigrants Max
    and Jennie
    Siegel. H
    andsome and charismatic, he was one of the first
    front-page celebrity gangsters. He was
    later a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas strip.
  • Jerry Siegel, also
    first generation from Russian immigrant parents, who in the 1930’s was
    co-creator of Superman, the first of the great comic book superheroes.
  • and David
    Siegel, second generation in America, who grew up in Florida and made
    fortune in time-share resorts. His wife
    Jackie starred in the 2012 TV documentary The Queen of Versailles.

Segals. Segals in America were
invariably Jewish,
with many of them settling in New York.
Their numbers here included:

  • Samuel Segal who arrived as a boy from
    Russia in 1893 and started the Segal
    and Hardware Company
    in Manhattan twenty years later.
  • a later Samuel Segal,
    a rabbi, who made his home in Brooklyn. His
    son Erich was a classics professor at Yale University. He became
    famous when his novel Love Story was
    made into a blockbuster film in 1970.
  • and Jacob Segal who arrived in the 1910’s
    from Poland and ran a small kosher butcher’s shop in the Bronx. His son George was a prominent American
    painter and sculptor in the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s.

The Segal name is well-known in fashion circles on the
West Coast. Fred Segal grew up in Los
Angeles and opened
a clothing store on Santa Monica Boulevard in 1958.
He caused a sensation at that time with his
form-fitting jeans. The store is now run
by the third generation of Segals and celebrities still shop there. Shelli Segal meanwhile is a Los Angeles based
clothes designer, the daughter of comedy writer Jerry Segal. Her
Laundry line, with its
trendy, slim-fitting designs, has become a major seller in all
stores that have carried it.

. A
Hasidic Segal family arrived in Montreal from Ukraine around the year
1910. Their numbers included Jacob Isaac Segal and his
sister Esther
who were both poets in the Yiddish language.

Joseph Segal was born to Jewish
immigrants parents in rural Alberta in 1925.
His wealth was based on a chain of discount department stores
which he founded. He later expanded into
estate. In 2017 he put his 25 year
mansion in Vancouver on the market for $63 million.
Its centrepiece was an Italian Ormolu
chandelier which had once belonged to the Italian dictator Benito

South Africa. Many Jewish Segals moved
to South Africa in the
early 1900’s. Morris Segal came in 1910,
it was said, as a representative of the Russian gymnastic team. He went on to start a jewelry business in

Segals from Poland were:

  • Leon Segal who settled in Cape Town and began a
    discount clothing store which made him rich. His
    son Ronald, born in 1932, became a
    prominent anti-apartheid activist.
  • while Abe Segal, born two years earlier in
    1930, had been the son of poor immigrant parents in Johannesburg
    (although his
    father was later able to start a small textile factory).
    Abe ran away from trade school to make his
    mark in the 1960’s as an international tennis player.

Segal/Siegel Miscellany

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

Segal/Siegel Names

Benny Siegel was an American
mobster, one of the most feared gangsters of the 1930’s.
Walter Segal
an architect who developed a system of self-build housing in
the UK
in the 1950’s.
Abe Segal
was a prominent South African tennis player in the
Joseph Segel
was a pioneer of direct marketing
companies in America in the 1960’s and 1970’s, most notably the QVC
network and the Franklin Mint.
Erich Segal
was the American author of the
best-selling Love Story in 1970

Select Segals/Siegels Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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