Explore the Family Name Foster

The meaning of Foster

1. English: variant of Forster ‘worker in a forest’. 2. English: perhaps a nickname from Middle English foster ‘foster parent’ (Old English fōstre, a derivative of fōstrian ‘to nourish or rear’). But other explanations are equally or more likely. 3. English: from Old French forcetier ‘maker of scissors’; see Forster 2. 4. English: variant of Fewster, from Anglo-Norman French, Middle English fu(y)ster ‘maker of saddletrees’ (compare Foister). 5. Probably an Americanized form of one or more similar (like-sounding) Jewish surnames, such as Forster. History: This name was brought to North America by many different bearers from the 17th century onward. Thomas Foster (1640–79) is buried in the old burial ground in Cambridge, MA. John Foster, born 1648 in Dorchester, MA, was the earliest wood engraver in America.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Foster has seen some changes over a decade. In 2000, it ranked as the 87th most common surname in the country with a count of 221,040. However, by 2010 the rank dropped to 99th despite an increase in the number of people with this last name to 227,764. This represents a decrease in ranking by 13.79% and an increase in count by 3.04%. The proportion per 100K people also decreased from 81.94 to 77.21 during this period.

20002010Change
Rank#87#99-13.79%
Count221,040227,7643.04%
Proportion per 100k81.9477.21-5.77%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Foster

The ethnicity data from the Decennial U.S. Census reveals shifts in the distribution of the Foster surname among different ethnic groups between 2000 and 2010. The largest percentage of Fosters identified as White, though this group's share decreased slightly from 72.00% to 69.65%. There was a notable increase in those claiming Hispanic heritage, rising from 1.70% to 2.65%, representing a 55.88% change. The proportion of Fosters identifying as Black rose modestly from 23.19% to 23.94%. Those reporting Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity increased from 0.46% to 0.55%, while the proportion of individuals identifying as two or more races rose from 1.78% to 2.33%. People identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native remained relatively stable at about 0.86% to 0.88%.

20002010Change
White72%69.65%-3.26%
Black23.19%23.94%3.23%
Hispanic1.7%2.65%55.88%
Two or More Races1.78%2.33%30.9%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.86%0.88%2.33%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.46%0.55%19.57%

Foster 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 Foster is British & Irish, which comprises 52.0% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (22.8%) and Eastern European (3.7%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Nigerian, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ashkenazi Jewish.

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ANCESTRY BREAKDOWNCOMPOSITION
British & Irish52.0%
French & German22.8%
Eastern European3.7%
Other21.4%
Foster

Possible origins of the surname Foster

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 Foster have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom84.50%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom84.50%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom84.40%
Merseyside, United Kingdom84.20%
West Midlands, United Kingdom83.70%

What Foster 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 Foster is R-DF88, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-DF88 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include J-M67 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Scott, Grant, Miller, Smith, Johnson, White, Brown, Mitchell, Hunt, Taylor.

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

fosterPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

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 Foster 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.

Preferences

Foster

Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Foster" Surname 43.9%

23andMe Users 41.3%

Traits

Foster

Misophonia

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

"Foster" Surname 26.9%

23andMe Users 27.9%

Habits

Foster

Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Foster" Surname 22.1%

23andMe Users 21.1%

Wellness

Foster

Migraine

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

"Foster" Surname 18.2%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Foster?

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 Foster 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%