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Surname Folger - Meaning and Origin

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Folger: What does the surname Folger mean?

The surname Folger is of English origin and is primarily associated with the regions of East Anglia and Essex. It is believed to be a patronymic surname derived from an Old English personal name, possibly “Fulcher” or "Folgere". The name “Fulcher” is composed of the elements "folk", meaning people, and "heri", meaning army. "Folgere", on the other hand, translates to "follower." Hence, the surname Folger can be interpreted to mean "the son of Fulcher" or "descendant of the follower." Historical documents reveal that the Folgers were often involved in public service roles, such as tax assessment. The surname gained prominence in American history through Abiah Folger, mother of Benjamin Franklin, and Peter Folger, an early settler of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Today, the name is most recognized for the Folgers Coffee Company, founded by J.A. Folger. It’s important to note that the exact meaning of surnames can depend on their specific etymological and regional histories.

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Folger: Where does the name Folger come from?

The surname Folger is of Anglo-Saxon origin and can be traced back to the early Middle Ages in England. It was initially a metonymic occupational name given to someone who worked as a fuller, a term derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "fulere", from "fūl" which means foul or dirty. A fuller's job involved cleaning and thickening raw cloth by beating and trampling it in water.

The surname first began being used in Norfolk in the east of England. The diaspora of people with the Folger surname includes Australia, Canada, and particularly the United States due to early English immigration records. The most famous Folger is probably J.A. Folger, the founder of the Folger Coffee Company in the United States, making the name quite recognizable in North America. The American Folger genealogy also includes a prominent line dating back to Peter Folger, one of the first white settlers of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and an ancestor of Benjamin Franklin. Today, the name Folger is found more frequently in the United States than any other country.

Variations of the surname Folger

The surname Folger likely originates from two possible sources. The first is from the Old German personal name Folghar, composed of the elements 'folk'- people and 'hari', army. The second is an English origin referring to "fowler" or "bird-catcher". It's a job-related surname similar to baker, miller, or smith.

Different spellings and variations of the surname Folger have evolved over time, probably due to regional accents, translation discrepancies, and literacy levels in the past. Here are some of the known variants for the name: Folgar, Foulger, Foulgher, Fulger, Fouger, Volger, and Fouljer.

Descendants and relatives from the same lineage could have their own versions of the surname. For example, descendants from a line of Folgers who migrated to different countries might have adapted the name to better align with local languages and culture, thus leading to the existence of similar but slightly different surnames.

It's worth noting that surnames weren't as fixed in the past as they are today, so variants were much more common. As different branches of the same family tree spread out and set down roots in different areas, these variations would take hold and become the standard in those regions.

Famous people with the name Folger

  • J. A. Folger: He was the founder of Folgers Coffee, a prominent coffee brand in the U.S.
  • Abigail Folger: She was an American socialite, volunteer, civil rights devotee, and the heiress to the Folgers coffee fortune. She tragically became famous in death when she was a victim of the notorious Tate-LaBianca murders perpetrated by followers of Charles Manson.
  • Peter Folger: He was an American coffee heir, socialite and member of the prominent Folger family. He was the father of Abigail Folger.
  • Steve Folger: A noteworthy weather forecaster for WGHP, the Fox-owned station in High Point, North Carolina.
  • John Clifford Folger: He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1957 to 1959.
  • Mary Clifford Folger: Wife of John Clifford Folger. She was an early advocate of family planning in the 20th century.
  • J. A. Folger II: He was the great-great-grandson of J. A. Folger, founder of the Folgers Coffee Company.
  • Charles J. Folger: He was an American lawyer and politician and served under President Chester A. Arthur as the Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Barbara Newhall Folger: She was an American socialite and philanthropist.
  • Franklin Folger: Noted American pianist and composer.

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