Springer Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Springer Surname Meaning

Springer was at first a German name, originating from the German word springen meaning to “jump” or “leap.”  Its origin as a surname may have come from one who jumped; or it may simply have been a nickname for a lively person. 

Springer can also be Jewish (the Yiddish shpringen has the same meaning) or Dutch, and there are variations of this name in Poland and in Slavic countries.  The Springer name has also appeared in England, although it may have come from a different source there.

Springer Surname Resources on The Internet

Springer Surname Ancestry

  • from Germany, Sweden and from Jewish emigrants
  • to America, Canada and Caribs (Barbados)

Springer family history, starting from Thuringia in Germany in the 11th century, was first recounted in Moses Springer’s 1881 book A Genealogical Table and History of the Springer Family

From an early American perspective, the key Springer line originated with Christopher Springer, resident of the German town of Weimar when it was occupied by Sweden.  He in fact moved to Stockholm sometime in the 1650’s and settled there.  His son Carl (later Charles) Springer was abducted in London and sent to Virginia as an indentured servant.  He eventually secured his release and made his way to the new Swedish settlement on the Delaware river.

The Springers number some 15,000 in Germany today.  The name may have had its origin in Thuringia in central Germany.  But it has spread north into Hanover and Hamburg.  Axel Springer, the owner of the Springer publishing empire, came from Hamburg.  

America.  The Swedish Springers have been the most prominent Springers in America, but they were not the only ones.

The Swedish Springers.  Charles Springer arrived in the Christiana Hundred, later Wilmington, in Delaware in 1681.  He and his wife Maria raised fourteen children there.  Some remained in Delaware.  Michael was the first of the family to settle in Fayette county, Pennsylvania where they remained into and through the 19th century.

There were the Springers of Uniontown and the Springers of Connellsville, Pennsylvania. The Levi Springer House, built in 1817, was originally conceived as a stage hotel on the road to Uniontown.  It still stands. Other Springers ended up in NW Ohio.

One line from Delaware via John Springer led to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War. He had two sons, Levi and Thomas, both of whom became Methodist ministers.  The Rev. Levi Springer moved first to Indiana and then to Illinois in 1833.  His brother Thomas meanwhile had been a pioneer settler in New Lebanon, Indiana in 1827.  He too later moved to Illinois.

Thomas’s son William became an Illinois congressman, influential through the Springer Amendment in opening up Indian lands for settlement. William’s wife Rebecca wrote a famous Christian inspirational book that was entitled My Dream of Heaven.

Other Springers.   There were some other early Springer lines:

  • Dennis and Mary Springer were married in New London, Connecticut in 1667.  It is believed that Dennis came there from Ireland.  His son Dennis moved to Elizabethtown, New Jersey; his grandson Dennis to Frederick county, Virginia.  The Indian fighter Nathaniel Springer is thought to have come from this family.
  • while Lawrence Springer arrived in Rhode Island from an English family in Barbados around the year 1684.

The largest number of Springers coming to America have been from Germany. Johan Peter Springer arrived from the Alsace-Lorraine area of Germany in 1755 and eventually settled in Augusta county, Virginia. George Springer, a shoemaker by profession, and his wife Mary came in the early 1830’s to Pennsylvania. Some of his children moved out west to Kansas and did well in land and cattle. Grandson Alvin became a lawyer in Manhattan, Kansas.

There are also a number of Jewish Springers in America, the most famous of them being the TV talk-show host Jerry Springer who died in 2023.  His great grandfather Abraham Springer had come from a small town in Poland, then part of Prussia.  His parents escaped Nazi tyranny, first to England and then to America. Other Jewish Springers are to be found in Argentina.

Canada.  The Swedish Springer line extended into Canada.  Benjamin Springer was a merchant in upstate New York who moved to Blenheim, Ontario in the early 1800’s.  He died in 1834 during the cholera epidemic. His son Moses, who grew up as an orphan, ran a German-language newspaper in Waterloo and was elected as the town’s first mayor.

Caribbean.  The Springer name in the Caribbean is probably of English origin.  John and Margaret Springer were early settlers in Barbados in the 1660’s.  Later Springers were plantation owners in St. Lucy.  Sir Hugh Springer, born in 1913, was a labor union organizer and later Governor of the country.  He was named as one of the ten national heroes of Barbados in 1998.  The Springer name also spread to Trinidad.

Springer Surname Miscellany

The Origins of the Springer Name.  The name was said to have originated with Louis II, Count of Thuringia, who was imprisoned by the Emperor.

However, he was able to make his escape from the castle where he was imprisoned by an adventurous leap from the tall battlements into the waters beneath.  The Emperor then pardoned him and gave him the name of “the Springer.”  His son Christopher became Count Springer in 1092. 

Charles Springer Is Remembered.  Charles’s marble plaque at his church in Wilmington reads as follows:

  • “In memory of Charles (Carl Christopher) Springer
  • Born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1658
  • Came to America, 1678
  • Died in Wilmington, Delaware in 1738.

A founder and builder of this church warden, vestryman and councilor from the founding until his death.  His body rests beneath this east wall of the south portico.”

In 1882 he was remembered again, but in a wrong way.  Two hoaxsters claimed that Charles Springer’s estate was worth $100 million and that the city of Wilmington had agreed to pay his heirs $20 million to release itself from the claim. The hoaxsters agreed to act as agents (for a fee) for those claiming descent. As a result many Springers in America started concocting family histories that showed them as descendants of Charles Springer. In the end the fraud was revealed.

Nathaniel Springer the Indian Fighter.  Nathanial Springer, born in 1722, appeared early in Monongalia county, West Virginia records.

He was recorded in a deposition there as leading an expedition in 1747 where Abe Little’s body was found scalped and hanging by his heels, Little being one of the earliest trappers in the Monongahela area.  The deposition described an event where Pharoah Ryley was bitten by a rattlesnake and almost died.  Nathaniel claimed to have sucked the poison from Ryley’s wound and applied herbs to save him.

Nathaniel was also in the employ of Lawrence and George Washington as a scout and guide in the 1750’s.

It was said that Nathaniel had 53 notches on his rifle from Indian warfare and was considered by many to be the best hunter in the Monongahela valley. He was described in Rev. Levi Shinn’s journal as a true pioneer woodsman “with a beard all the way to his crotch.”  He was supposed to have won a hunting contest in Monongalia county in 1799 at the age of 77.

The Rev. Levi Springer’s Journey.  The Rev. Levi Springer travelled from Indiana to Morgan county, Illinois in company with his wife, each on horseback in the fall of 1833.

From Paris they started on the “lost trace,” crossing the Grand Prairie to the head of the Sangamon river.  They were two nights on the prairie, sleeping on the grass, with no protection save the blankets which they carried, the wolves howling all around them. Reaching Springfield, they found only a few cabins. They then proceeded to Crow’s Point on Indian Creek, near which point they settled.

Reader Feedback – Springer from Iowa.  I’m a descendant of William Harrison Springer, my grandfather, from Oscoloosa, Iowa.  He was born in 1888 and was a shoemaker by trade.  He owned and operated a shoe repair business in Napa, California for fifty-seven years.  He and his wife Nettie raised eleven children, of which my father was the youngest.

Dennis Springer (Dubblnz352@gmail.com).

Virginia Springer in Trinidad.  Virginia Springer was the illegitimate daughter of Barbados-born James Barry Springer who spent some of his later years in Trinidad, most probably receiving medical treatment for oral cancer at the colonial hospital there.

According to family lore, Virginia’s mother was a Portuguese mulatto.  It was well documented that white men of means often took mixed-race women of color as their mistresses in a mutually-beneficial “placage”-type relationship.  Trinidad was known for the beauty of its mulatto women.

Virginia’s mother died when she was young and she and her brother were raised by her Aunt Alice. She grew up in San Fernando where she later met her husband George Ramdeen, the son of an East Indian shopkeeper. Her aunt wasn’t pleased with the match as she felt that George was “too dark.”  However, Virginia and George did marry in 1903.

They later moved to Fyzabad where Virginia was a founding member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and was well remembered locally as “Gammy.”

Springer Names

  • Charles Springer was the forebear of the Swedish Springers in America. 
  • Sir Hugh Springer was the third native-born Governor of Barbados.   
  • Jerry Springer has been the Mayor of Cleveland and a TV news anchor, but was best known as the host of the tabloid talk show The Jerry Springer Show which he hosted since 1991.

Springer Numbers Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Springer and Like Surnames 

The first wave of German immigration into America came in the early 1700’s from the Rhine Palatine and Switzerland.  They were fleeing religious persecution at home.  Most ended up in Pennsylvania, bringing their Mennonite church with them.  Some went to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  Their Germanic names often changed under English rule to English-style names.  Thus Fischer became Fisher, Schneider Snyder, Hubner Hoover and so forth.

The reasons for immigration were different in the 19th century – in search of a better life, sometimes to avoid the draft.  They came from all German states and went not just to Pennsylvania but all over as the middle and west of the country was opening up.  And they brought German skills with them, notably beer-making.  Here are some of the notable German surnames in America that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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