Explore the Family Name Johnson

The meaning of Johnson

1. English and Scottish: patronymic from the Middle English and Older Scots personal name Johan, Jo(h)n (see John) + -son. It was often interchanged with Jenson and Janson. In North America, this surname has absorbed cognates from other languages, e.g. Norwegian, Danish, or North German Johnsen, Johannesen, Johannsen, Johansen, Jansen, Jantzen, and Jensen, Swedish Johnsson (see below), Johansson, Jonsson, and Jansson, Dutch Janssen, German Janz, Czech Jansa 1, and Slovenian Janša (see Jansa 2) and Janežič (see Janezic). Johnson (including in the sense 2 below) is the second most frequent surname in the US. It is also the second most common surname among Native Americans and a very common surname among African Americans. 2. Americanized form (and a less common Swedish variant) of Swedish Johnsson: patronymic from the personal name John, a variant of Jon (see John). Compare 1 above. History: Surname Johnson was brought independently to North America by many different bearers from the 17th and 18th centuries onward. Andrew Johnson (1808–75), 17th president of the US, was born in Raleigh, NC, the younger son of Jacob Johnson and Mary (or Polly) McDonough. Little is known of his ancestors. The 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, dates his American forebears back seven generations to James Johnston (sic) (born c.1662) who lived at Currowaugh, Nansemond, and Isle of Wight counties, VA. — Noted early bearers also include Marmaduke Johnson (died 1674), a printer who came from England to MA in 1660; Edward Johnson (1598–1672), a colonial chronicler who was baptized at St. George’s parish, Canterbury, England, and emigrated to Boston in 1630; and Sir Nathaniel Johnson (c.1645–1713), a colonial governor of Carolina, who came from County Durham, England.

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

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

According to the Decennial U.S. Census, the surname Johnson maintained a steady popularity between 2000 and 2010. In both years, it ranked second in terms of commonality among all surnames in the United States. The count of individuals with this surname increased by 4.07% from 1,857,160 in 2000 to 1,932,812 in 2010. However, its proportion per 100k people declined slightly by 4.82%, from 688.44 to 655.24.

20002010Change
Rank#2#20%
Count1,857,1601,932,8124.07%
Proportion per 100k688.44655.24-4.82%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Johnson

The ethnic identity associated with the surname Johnson, based on data from the Decennial U.S. Census, is diverse and has experienced changes over time. White individuals account for the majority, although this percentage dropped slightly from 61.55% in 2000 to 58.97% in 2010. The Black ethnicity showed a slight increase, from 33.80% to 34.63%. Meanwhile, the Hispanic representation saw a substantial increase, rising from 1.50% to 2.36%. There was also an increase in those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and those reporting two or more races, which went from 0.42% to 0.54% and from 1.82% to 2.56% respectively. Lastly, American Indian and Alaskan Native representation remained relatively stable at just under 1%.

20002010Change
White61.55%58.97%-4.19%
Black33.8%34.63%2.46%
Two or More Races1.82%2.56%40.66%
Hispanic1.5%2.36%57.33%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.91%0.94%3.3%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.42%0.54%28.57%

Johnson 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 Johnson is British & Irish, which comprises 43.4% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (21.2%) and Scandinavian (10.3%). Additional ancestries include Nigerian, Eastern European, Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean, Italian, and Spanish & Portuguese.

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ANCESTRY BREAKDOWNCOMPOSITION
British & Irish43.4%
French & German21.2%
Scandinavian10.3%
Other25.1%
Johnson

Possible origins of the surname Johnson

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 Johnson have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom76.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom76.20%
Merseyside, United Kingdom76.10%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom75.80%
Tyne And Wear, United Kingdom74.90%

What Johnson 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 Johnson is E-P252, which is predominantly found among people with Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Haplogroup E-P252 is descended from haplogroup E-M96. Other common haplogroups include R-P311 and E-V13, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Anderson, Nelson, Smith, Brown, White, Young, Taylor, Green, Wilson, Mitchell.

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

johnsonPaternal Haplogroup Origins E-M96
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to Ramesses III

Pharaoh Ramesses III defended Egypt in three consecutive wars during his approximately 30-year reign, but provoked dissent within his administration. Catalyzed by mounting internal strife, one of Ramesses's lesser wives, Tiye, hatched a plot to have her son, Pentawer, usurp the throne by having Ramesses III murdered along with his appointed heir. A papyrus record of the resulting trial explains that the plot failed and that all involved were tried and convicted.However, a modern CT scan of Ramesses III's mummy revealed a deep slit in his throat, reopening a case long thought closed. The embalmers went to great lengths to cover up other wounds, including fashioning a fake toe out of resin where Ramesses's real one had been hacked off, likely during a fatal attack. For thousands of years, Ramesses's burial adornments concealed the wounds that mark one of the most famous royal dramas in history. Ramesses III's paternal lineage belongs to haplogroup E-V38.

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 Johnson 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

Johnson

Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Johnson" Surname 41.6%

23andMe Users 41.3%

Traits

Johnson

Misophonia

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

"Johnson" Surname 27.7%

23andMe Users 27.9%

Habits

Johnson

Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Johnson" Surname 22.5%

23andMe Users 21.1%

Wellness

Johnson

Cat Allergy

An allergic reaction to cats, characterized by symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and difficulty breathing.

"Johnson" Surname 35.0%

23andMe Users 36.7%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Johnson?

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 Johnson 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%