This article looks in detail at ten rare last names beginning with A.
Each of these surnames only had one hundred bearers in the U.S. in 2010. I used older census data to look at how rare they had been in the early 19th and late 20th centuries.
As the census data has always given the country of birth, it was interesting to see individuals and families bringing the name into the USA.
The last name Aarseth nearly doubled from fifty-one people in the 1930 census to a hundred in 2010.
The name is of Norwegian origin.
Twenty-four of the people with the name in 1930 were born in Norway. That was the only foreign birth country represented.
And it’s not just people that bear this rare name. There is a minor planet named “9836 Aarseth” that was discovered in the 1980s from a dark-sky observatory in Arizona.
It was named in honor of the Norwegian astronomer Sverre Aarseth.
People named Abarra in the 2010 census were spread across several heritages. This was the breakdown of how they reported their ethnicity:
- Hispanic: 51%
- Asian or Pacific Islander: 35%
- Mixed: 10%
There were only five people with the name in the 1930 census. Three were a married couple and their son. The parents were born in Germany and had their child in New York.
The other two were young men born in the Philippines and working as laborers in Sacramento.
Acott grew from forty-one bearers in 1930 to a hundred in 2010.
Only two in the 1930 census were born outside the United States, in England and Sweden respectively.
So, I went back to the 1900 census and found that seven of the thirty-two people were born in England.
Does that make it an exclusively English name? Perhaps not. Most of the bearers in the 1850 census were born in Germany.
The English origins may come from the Anglo-Norman name “A’Court”, which was given to people who worked at a stately home (or “court”)
There were just thirteen people named Adamchick in the 1900 U.S. census. Three were born in Hungary and three in Austria.
One lady’s country of birth was stated as “Poland (Aust)”. Poland was partitioned at that time by Austria, Russia, and Prussia.
According to the census, she was a Polish speaker born in the Austrian partition.
The name Altmark grew from thirty-five people in the 1900 census to a hundred in 2010.
It is Germanic in origin. Historically, the name described a region near Hamburg.
People from that area would have taken the name.
The name is perhaps best known for the “Altmark Incident” that occurred in 1940 during the Second World War.
A German tanker named Altmark was boarded by the British navy to rescue prisoners of war.
Angliss had just ten bearers in the 1900 census. Only one was born outside the United States – in England.
The name is a variant of surnames like Inglis, Inglish, or English.
It was likely conferred on people in Scotland who originally hailed from English counties.
The Normans may also have given the name to English aristocrats or wealthy merchants.
There were thirty-five people named Apprill in the 1940 census.
The name is probably a spelling variant of April. The meaning is derived from the Latin “Aprilis” (and refers to the month).
The surname Arrott had thirty bearers in the United States in 1900. This grew to fifty-three people in 1940. It’s been a slow rise to a hundred in 2010.
In 1900, two of the thirty were a couple born in Ireland. There was one more Irishman with the name in the census who married a Pennsylvanian woman.
Irish records from the mid-19th century have a handful of people named Arrott. They were based in Belfast.
Ashes is one of the few rare surnames starting with A which was predominantly Native American in the 2010 census.
The breakdown of ethnicities in 2010 was like this:
- American Indian: 64%
- Black: 19%
- White: 14%
When I go back to the 1900 census, I see these birthplaces listed amongst the twenty-five people with the name:
- Navajo reservation, Arizona Territory
- Pine Ridge Indian Agency, South Dakota
- Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory
Auda is a rare name that hasn’t grown much over the last ninety years.
There were ninety-nine people with the name in the 1930 census.
However, there were only sixteen people named Auda in 1900. Six were born in Italy and one in Norway.
The 1930 census saw more people named Auda arriving from:
The name may be a variant of the Italian name Alda.
It may also be a variant of the Germanic name Aude, which in turn is a variant of Ulrich.
Other Types Of A Names
Now that you’ve seen these rare names, are you wondering which names are the most common?
We break down the top ten and show the meanings of another eight hundred in our big list of last names that start with A.