Select Hanson Surname Genealogy

"Son of Hans" was the basis for the surname Hansen found in Denmark, Norway and in the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg that are closest to Denmark.  Hansson is the Swedish spelling.  Both names have 20th century Prime Ministers - H.C. Hansen of Denmark in the 1950's and Per Albin Hansson of Sweden in the 1930's and 1940's.

"Son of Hann" was thought to have been the basis for the English surname Hanson.  Hann, a popular personal name in Yorkshire in the 13th century, could have been the abbreviated form of the Hebrew name Hannah.  

The names Hanson and Hansen both came to America.

Select Hanson/Hansen Resources on The Internet

Select Hanson/Hansen Ancestry

The Scandinavian population of Hansens and Hanssons in Denmark, Norway and Sweden is approximately 260,000 today.  It is estimated that some 15,000 made the journey to America, with the peak years of migration being in the late 1800's.  On arrival a large number anglicized their name to Hanson.  Many did remain Hansen.

The Hanson and Hansen population in America is close to 95,000 today.  Some of the early Hansons had come from England.

.  The Hanson surname has its origins in Yorkshire, near the town of Halifax.  The line began with local landowner Roger de Rastrick.  His grandson John, the son of Henry, became known as Henson which later became Hanson.  Later lines are thought to include:
  • the Hansons of Normanton where Hanson House, a timber-frame house of the 15th century, still stands.  Sir Levett Hanson, a childhood friend of Horatio Nelson, was of this line. 
  • Christopher Hanson recorded at Arthington in Addle parish in 1640.  He was the forebear of the Hanson traders in the Levant during the 19th century.  
  • and Thomas Hanson, one of the early settlers in Dover, New Hampshire in 1658.
Mary Hanson, a Yorkshire farmer's wife, started a horse-drawn haulage business for wool in Huddersfield in 1848.  This family business continued with Robert Hanson until the 1940's.  His son, James Edward Hanson, was to prove himself a master of the arts of corporate takeover and asset-stripping.  He died as Lord Hanson in 2004, one of the most admired businessmen of the Thatcher era.

The Captain Thomas Hansen who led the Christian missionaries to New Zealand in 1814 prabably came from a Danish community that had settled in London after the Great Fire in 1666.

America.  Despite the myths of his Swedish origin, John Hanson - the acting President of the Continental Congress at the time of the Revolutionary War - was of English ancestry.  His grandfather, also named John, had been transported to Maryland as an indentured servant in 1661 and sold to Edward Keene of Calvert county, Maryland.  The family had then grown wealthy and John's father, Samuel, was the owner of the Mulberry Grove plantation in Charles county.

John's nephew Samuel Hanson fought in the Revolutionary War.  His son, Judge Samuel, migrated to Kentucky in 1807 and was the father of four sons who fought in the Civil War, one Charles a colonel in the Union army who survived the war and another Roger, known as “Old Flintlock,” a general on the Confederate side who died on the battlefield in 1863.

Scandinavian Influx.  The main influx of Hansons and Hansens from Scandinavia began in the 1870’s, principally into Minnesota and other states of the Upper Midwest. 

Iver and Olina Hanson came from Norway to Danvers, Minnesota in the 1870’s.  Like a number of others, they later migrated north to Manitoba in Canada, in their case to Clanwilliam, when land became available for homesteading in 1903.  

“This Hanson family was Lutheran and wanted one of their sons to become a pastor.  The youngest was chosen for this career.  He attended the Lutheran seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota for two years. Not cut out to be a pastor, he left the seminary and became a farmer. That was not his forté either. He was very gregarious and became a salesman for farm equipment instead.”  

Olof Hanson emigrated with his family from Sweden in 1875 and also came to Minnesota.  Although he was deaf he was able to enrol and graduate from Gallaudet University.  In 1895 he opened his own architectural practice in Faribault, being possibly America’s first deaf architect.  

Hans Thomsen Hansen came to Minden, Nebraska from Denmark in 1889 at the age of just nineteen. His eldest son, Hans Lloyd Hansen, was born five years later.  By this time the family had given up the Danish custom of changing the last name and for Hans Lloyd it was appropriate for him to have Hansen as the last name. Hans the father lived to be 75, the owner and operator of a farm implement business, and died in Minden in 1945. 

Today, as a result of this immigration, the Hanson and Hansen names are mainly names of the American West.  Most Hansons are to be found in Minnesota, most Hansens in California.

Canada.  John Hanson, a descendant of Thomas Hanson (an early immigrant to New Hampshire), served with the British army in Quebec during the French and Indain War and afterwards moved to New Brunswick - first to Chamcook island and later to Bocabec.  His descendants are numerous in New Brunswick.

The Scandinavian presence in Canada did not really appear until the early 1900's with the opening up of new land in the Canadian West under the Dominions Land Act of 1902 (when free farms for the million were advertised).  Around this time:
  • Hans Hanson and his family came north from Minnesota to Clanwilliam in Manitoba
  • Abe Hanson, also from Minnesota, settled in the Swan River area of Manitoba  
  • the brothers Helmer and Ellert Hanson from Iowa settled in Lajord, Saskatchewan
  • and Christoph Hansen from Schleswig-Holstein in Germany also came to Saskatchewan.
The Hanson brothers were the first to intoduce successfully introduce machines for swathing and swath threshing the wheat crop in the Canadian West, thereby reducing harvesting costs.

Australia and New Zealand.   Two Danish Hansens got gold fever in Victoria:
  • according to the family story, Frederick Hansen (who came from a Danish family in northern Germany) jumped ship in Melbourne in 1855 so that he could seek his fortune in the goldfields of Victoria.  The riches never materialized.  But he married and raised a large family on the Upper Yarra. 
  • another Dane with gold on his brain was Johan Hansen who arrived in 1858 and first tried to get lucky in Ballarat and then in New Zealand.  John Hansen, as he became known, was one of the early settlers in Thames, North Island where he started a general store. 
Andrew and Ephraim Hansen were immigrants from Sweden who came to Melbourne in the 1860's.  Ephraim built his home in 1899 on property that became known as Ambleside Park.  His house has been preserved by the Australian National Trust.   

Select Hanson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Hanson Names

John Hanson was acting President of the Continental Congress at the time of the Revolutionary War.  
Roger Hanson
was a Confederate general during the Civil War, known as “Old Flintlock.” 
James Edward, Lord Hanson was one of the most admired English businessmen of the Thatcher era, a master of the arts of corporate takeover and asset-stripping

Select Hansons/Hansens Today
  • 18,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 100,000 in America (most numerous in Minnesota) 
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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