Explore the Family Name Palmer

The meaning of Palmer

1. English: nickname from Middle English palmer(e) ‘palmer, pilgrim to the Holy Land’ (Anglo-Norman French palmer, Old French pa(l)mer, paum(i)er), so called from the palm branch carried by such pilgrims. The term was also used to denote an itinerant monk who traveled from shrine to shrine under a vow of poverty. This surname is also common in Ireland, where it has been recorded from the 13th century onward. 2. Irish: when not of English origin (see 1 above), a surname adopted for Gaelic Ó Maolfhoghmhair (see Milford), the name of an ecclesiastical family. 3. Swedish (mainly Palmér): ornamental name formed with palm ‘palm tree’ + the suffix -ér (a derivative of Latin -erius) or -er (from German). 4. German: topographic name for someone living among pussy willows (see Palm 2). 5. German: from the personal name Palm (see Palm 3).

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

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

Based on the data from the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname 'Palmer' slightly declined between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, it was ranked as the 158th most popular surname in the United States but dropped to the 172nd position by 2010, indicating an 8.86% decrease in rank. However, the actual count of individuals with the 'Palmer' surname increased by 4.12% during this period, from 150,407 in 2000 to 156,601 in 2010. The proportion per 100,000 people also dipped slightly from 55.76 in 2000 to 53.09 in 2010, marking a 4.79% decrease.

Proportion per 100k55.7653.09-4.79%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Palmer

The Decennial U.S. Census data also reveals interesting changes in the ethnic identity associated with the surname 'Palmer'. Between 2000 and 2010, the largest ethnic group identifying with 'Palmer' remained White, although its proportion decreased slightly from 77.87% to 75.08%. The percentage of those identifying as Black increased modestly from 17.31% to 18.57%. The proportion of Hispanics with the surname 'Palmer' saw the most significant growth at 48.70%, rising from 1.93% to 2.87%. Meanwhile, those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and Two or more races also increased, while the American Indian and Alaskan Native category noted a slight decrease.

Two or More Races1.62%2.11%30.25%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.83%0.81%-2.41%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.45%0.55%22.22%

Palmer 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 Palmer is British & Irish, which comprises 50.2% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (23.5%) and Scandinavian (4.1%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Nigerian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ashkenazi Jewish.

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British & Irish50.2%
French & German23.5%

Possible origins of the surname Palmer

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 Palmer have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom84.00%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom83.70%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom83.60%
Merseyside, United Kingdom83.50%
West Midlands, United Kingdom83.00%

What Palmer 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 Palmer is R-M167, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-M167 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-L664 and R-U152, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Fisher, Cox, Brown, Robinson, Thompson, Myers, Martin, Gray, Green, Smith.

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

palmerPaternal 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 Palmer 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.

"Palmer" Surname 44.1%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Palmer" Surname 27.3%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Palmer" Surname 21.6%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Palmer" Surname 17.7%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Palmer?

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 Palmer 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%