Explore the Family Name Emerson

The meaning of Emerson

English: patronymic meaning ‘son of Emery’, or possibly a variant of Emmeson, from the Middle English personal name Emmott + -son, with later shortening of the first element (see Emmett). See Emery and compare Empson. History: The poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) was born in Boston of a line on his father’s side that can be traced back through preachers to the first colonial generation. The name Emerson was brought over from England independently by various other people, including a Thomas Emerson who settled at Ipswich, MA, c.1636.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Emerson in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Emerson experienced a slight decline between 2000 and 2010. The rank of this surname dropped by 7.41 percent from 1066th place in 2000 to 1145th place in 2010. However, the overall count of people with the Emerson surname increased by 2.24 percent during the same period, from 30,028 to 30,702. The proportion of people named Emerson per 100k also slightly decreased by 6.47 percent.

Proportion per 100k11.1310.41-6.47%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Emerson

In terms of ethnicity, the data from the Decennial U.S. Census shows some shifts in the ten-year span. The percentage of Emersons identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and those identifying as belonging to two or more races rose by 20.34 percent and 37.50 percent respectively. Furthermore, there was a notable increase of 52.27 percent in those identifying as Hispanic. Meanwhile, the proportion identifying as white and black saw small decreases of 1.66 percent and 2.96 percent respectively. Lastly, the percentage of Emersons identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native saw a modest increase of 6.62 percent.

Two or More Races1.44%1.98%37.5%
American Indian and Alaskan Native1.51%1.61%6.62%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.59%0.71%20.34%

Emerson ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Emerson is British & Irish, which comprises 53.6% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (22.4%) and Scandinavian (5.7%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Spanish & Portuguese, and Nigerian.

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British & Irish53.6%
French & German22.4%

Possible origins of the surname Emerson

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Emerson have recent ancestry locations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom87.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom87.30%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom87.00%
West Midlands, United Kingdom87.00%
Merseyside, United Kingdom86.80%

What Emerson haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Emerson is I-Z190, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup I-Z190 is descended from haplogroup I-M170. Other common haplogroups include R-CTS3087 and I-Z58, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Wentworth, Hargreaves, Ballinger, Sewell, Oglesby, Hilliard, Deweese, Falk, Harms, Giles.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Emerson surname are: H1, T2b, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

emersonPaternal Haplogroup Origins I-M170

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Emerson have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Emerson" Surname 44.4%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Emerson" Surname 24.0%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Emerson" Surname 23.7%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Emerson" Surname 20.0%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Emerson?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Emerson are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%