Explore the Family Name Willems

The meaning of Willems

1. Dutch, Flemish, and North German: patronymic from Willem. The surname of Flemish and German origin is also common in the Walloon part of Belgium (especially in its German-speaking part). 2. English (Middlesex): variant of Williams.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the surname Willems has seen a slight drop in popularity between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, it was ranked 11,520 in popularity, but by 2010 it had slipped to rank 11,597, representing a decrease of 0.67 percent. However, despite this dip in ranking, the actual count of individuals with the Willems surname increased from 2,505 in 2000 to 2,707 in 2010 – an increase of 8.06 percent. This means that for every 100,000 people in the U.S., approximately 0.92 had this surname in 2010, a small decrease from the 0.93 per 100,000 in 2000.

Proportion per 100k0.930.92-1.08%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Willems

When looking at the ethnicity distribution of the Willems surname, according to the same Decennial U.S. Census data, there were notable shifts between 2000 and 2010. The percentage identifying as White decreased from 94.81% to 89.77%. Meanwhile, those identifying as Black saw a significant increase from 1.20% to 3.10%, a change of 158.33%. Individuals of Hispanic ethnicity also rose from 2.08% in 2000 to 3.40% in 2010. There were also small increases for those identifying with two or more races, going from 1.24% to 2.33%, and those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaskan Native, which all started from 0% in 2000 and rose to 0.89% and 0.52% respectively in 2010.

Two or More Races1.24%2.33%87.9%
Asian/Pacific Islander0%0.89%0%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0%0.52%0%

Willems 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 Willems is French & German, which comprises 50.1% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are British & Irish (28.0%) and Scandinavian (6.0%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Spanish & Portuguese, and Greek & Balkan.

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French & German50.1%
British & Irish28.0%

Possible origins of the surname Willems

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 Willems have recent ancestry locations spanning a few countries, mostly in United Kingdom, and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Tyne And Wear, United Kingdom56.50%
Lancashire, United Kingdom56.50%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom56.50%
Greater London, United Kingdom56.50%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom56.50%

What Willems 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 Willems is O-F2415, which is predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Haplogroup O-F2415 is descended from haplogroup O-M1359. Other common haplogroups include E-M183 and O-F2859, which are predominantly found among people with European and East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Willems surname are: H1, H, U5b. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

willemsPaternal Haplogroup Origins O-M1359
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to the Cham

One of the many populations harboring members of haplogroup O1b1a1a1a1 is the Cham ethnic group, a group of people who speak Austronesian languages in Mainland Southeast Asia. Austronesian languages make up a language family that is extremely large and widespread, comprising over 350 million people on islands such as Madagascar, Easter Island, and many others. However, Austronesian languages are less common on mainland Asia, with a notable exception being the Chamic language. Research suggests that ancestors of the Cham people migrated from Southeast Asian islands to the mainland around the year 500 BCE, and that early Cham populations quickly began mixing with indigenous southern Vietnamese populations. As a result, the Chamic language now has words that were borrowed from languages spoken by indigenous Vietnamese people. It is likely that an ancestral Kinh population was one of the populations that mixed with the Cham people shortly after their migration to mainland Asia.

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 Willems 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.

"Willems" Surname 40.9%

23andMe Users 41.3%



Cheek Dimples

Small indentations that appear on the cheeks when a person smiles.

"Willems" Surname 38.5%

23andMe Users 37.6%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Willems" Surname 19.2%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Willems" Surname 14.7%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Willems?

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 Willems 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

French & German 60.8%

23andMe Users 57.2%