History of your Surname
Get access to James family records.Start a free trial

James Family History

James Name Meaning

English: from a personal name that has the same origin as Jacob. However, among English speakers, it is now felt to be a separate name in its own right. This is largely because in the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611) the form James is used in the New Testament as the name of two of Christ’s apostles (James the brother of John and James the brother of Andrew), whereas in the Old Testament the brother of Esau is called Jacob. The form James comes from Latin Jacobus via Late Latin Jac(o)mus, which also gave rise to Jaime, the regular form of the name in Spanish (as opposed to the learned Jacobo). See also Jack and Jackman. This is a common surname throughout the British Isles, particularly in South Wales.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

Similar surnames: Ames, Janes, Jakes, Jaques, Sales, Amos, Jaimes, Sames, Eales, Hamel

Search for a relative to learn more about your family history.

Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

Black & white image of a young woman scientist

Where is the James family from?

You can see how James families moved over time by selecting different census years. The James family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most James families were found in the UK in 1891. In 1840 there were 267 James families living in Ohio. This was about 12% of all the recorded James's in the USA. Ohio had the highest population of James families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the James surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your James ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Maid were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named James. Some less common occupations for Americans named James were Truck Driver and Housekeeper. .

View Census Data for James | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Laborer
  • Farmer
  • Salesman
  • Truck Driver

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Maid
  • Cook
  • Housewife
  • Housekeeper
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What James family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 2 million census records available for the last name James. Like a window into their day-to-day life, James census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for James

Passenger Lists

There are 354,000 immigration records available for the last name James. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all James immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 300,000 military records available for the last name James. For the veterans among your James ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all James military records

What is the average James lifespan?

Between 1940 and 2004, in the United States, James life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1941, and highest in 2002. The average life expectancy for James in 1940 was 40, and 72 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for James

Discover the unique achievements of ancestors in the James family tree

Explore Your Tree
Search for another surname
Start a 14-Day Free Trial