French Family Association

The Official Website of the Surname French

German Surnames in Connection
with the Surname French

Send any corrections or additions to Revisions: 2011.

Ancestors with the following German surnames married into the French family and are mostly of DNA Test Group 4 who lived in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.


FFA Home Page

Immigration from Germany

Children and German Naming Conventions

German Naming Traditions and Patterns in PA

Was the French Family German?

The Funk Family

See also FFA Chart #195

The Shively / Schnebele / Snabley / Schebley / Savely Family

See also FFA Chart #30

The Frantz Family has noted that the names Funk and Fanck, Franck, Franck, Fersch, Frand, Frank, Frech, Fremt, and Funck could actually have been French. But . . . after doing some research, the large Funk family in the Pennsylvania area also consisting of a Henry, Jacob, and John, is not the same one as our French family; note that there was also a Joseph Funk which we don’t have.

Frantz DNA Project (so far none match the French DNA Group 4)

The Rule / Ruhl Family

See also FFA Chart #129

The Smice / Schmeiss Family

See also FFA Chart #129

The Sheets / Sheetz Family

See also FFA Chart #129

The Miller Family

See also FFA Chart #195

The Ersom Family

See also FFA Chart #31

The Sturman / Sterman Family

See also FFA Chart #31

The Houser Family

The Kountz Family

See also FFA Chart #129

The Hartman Family

See also FFA Chart #129

Immigration from Germany

The Germans who married into the French family had the surnames Rule (Rühl), Smice (Schmeiss), Shively (Schnebele), and Sheets (Sheetz) and many more. Many Germans emigrated from Hesse, Germany to Pennsylvania between 1748 and 1766. Hesse, or the Palatine (Palatinate or Pfalz region), was the area of highest 18th Century German recruitment and emigration. The waterways Rhine, Mosel, Main, and Neckar Rivers were the primary mode of travel from their villages to Rotterdam, Amsterdam, for emigration to America.

They came over in the ship “James Goodwill”. The Frantz family was in no way connected with the French family who emigrated from England or Scotland. The name “Miller” appears on the passenger list from Germany, a name connected to the French family in Pennsylvania.

The French family was from England. They immigrated to Pennsylvania and resided in the German community in Lancaster County where they met and married Germans.

Was the French Family German?

The emigration from the Rhineland (then the Electoral Palatinate) began early in the 18th Century when Queen Anne became concerned for the plight of the protestant subjects of her cousin, the Elector. At first, the Palatines were brought to England, but this produced overcrowding and domestic disturbances.  In 1709, a group then in England was transported to New York. Subsequently, Palatines were transported directly to the colonies, most often to Pennsylvania. This met the goals of settling the colonies & giving relief to those who wished to emigrate.

Demand was strong and a bustling trade in human cargo soon developed. Sometimes, recruiters would spread out through the Rhine Valley, selling passage on ships. If the prospective passengers hadn't the money, a contract for indentured servitude would be accepted. Sometimes, the emigrants made their way down the Rhine to (mostly) Rotterdam and contacted a ship's captain there.

Before the prospective emigrants could leave, they needed permission from their local government. Most often, a simple fee of 10-15 pfennigs and vote by the city council would obtain a "manumission permit". But, if the individual was subject to military subscription (draft) they would not be allowed to leave. The journey down the Rhine River was the next hurdle; this could take weeks on boats or barges. Each time they stopped, the local authorities might exact another tax.

Yet none of this stemmed the flood of Palatines pouring out of Germany & into the "New World".  In 1727, Pennsylvanians became concerned enough about unregulated immigration of these "foreigners" (meaning non-British subjects), that they passed an act requiring registration & loyalty oaths.

From 1727 to 1776 (when the Revolutionary War interrupted immigration) each ship was required to submit a list of its debarkees, who were then required to take and sign (or have signed for them, then make their marks) loyalty oaths at City Hall. 

The first group of Germans to settle in Pennsylvania arrived in Philadelphia in 1683 from Krefeld, Germany, and included Mennonites and possibly some Dutch Quakers. During the early years of German emigration to Pennsylvania, most of the emigrants were members of small sects that shared Quaker principles--Mennonites, Dunkers, Schwenkfelders, Moravians, and some German Baptist groups--and were fleeing religious persecution. Penn and his agents encouraged German and European emigration to Pennsylvania by circulating promotional literature touting the economic advantages of Pennsylvania as well as the religious liberty available there. The appearance in Pennsylvania of so many different religious groups made the province resemble "an asylum for banished sects." Beginning in the 1720s significantly larger numbers of German Lutherans and German Reformed arrived in Pennsylvania. Many were motivated by economic considerations. 

My theory is that the French family was actually from England and migrated for a short time to Germany before migrating to Philadelphia. Many Germans came with them.

Children and German Naming Conventions

At baptism, if two given names were given to the child, the first given name was a spiritual, saint's name. The second given name was the secular or call name, i.e., "rufnamen", which is the name the person was known by, both within the family and to the rest of the world. This custom was originally adopted in Germanic and other regions in Europe from Roman Catholic tradition and continued by the Protestants in their baptismal naming customs. The immigrants from these areas brought the custom with them to Pennsylvania. The spiritual name, usually to honor a favorite saint, was used repeatedly and was usually given to all the children of that family of the same gender. Thus the boys would be Johan Adam Kerchner, Johan George Kerchner, etc., or Philip Peter Kerchner, Philip Jacob Kerchner, etc. Girls would be named Anna Barbara Kerchner, Anna Margaret Kerchner, etc., or Maria Elizabeth Kerchner, Maria Catherine Kerchner, etc. But after baptism, these people would not be known as John, Philip, Anna, or Maria, respectively. They would instead be known by what we would think of now as their middle name, which was their secular name. Thus these people would be known respectively as Adam, George, Peter, Jacob, Barbara, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Catherine in legal and secular records. For males, the saint's name Johan or John for Saint John was particularly heavily used by many German families, but also Saint George was used by some families for male children. The child's secular name was really John, if and only if, at baptism he was named only John, usually spelled as Johannes, with no second given name. The name John spelled as Johannes is rarely seen spelled as Johannes as a spiritual name, i.e., you rarely will see the name at baptism recorded as Johannes Adam Kerchner, etc. It is generally always found spelled as Johan or Johann when used as a spiritual name. Thus, you find the spiritual name of John recorded as Johan Adam Kerchner or Johann Adam Kerchner, not Johannes Adam Kerchner. See German Naming Traditions and Patterns in PA for more information. One naming pattern for Germans was:

1st son after the father's father
2nd son after the mother's father
3rd son after the father
4th son after the father's father's father
5th son after the mother's father's father
6th son after the father's mother's father
7th son after the mother's mother's father

1st daughter after the mother's mother
2nd daughter after the father's mother
3rd daughter after the mother
4th daughter after the father's father's mother
5th daughter after the mother's father's mother
6th daughter after the father's mother's mother
7th daughter after the mother's mother's mother