Ives Surname Meaning and Family History

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The surname Ives is believed to have originated from the Old French personal name Ive (similar to the modern French Yves) or the Norman personal name Ivo, both short forms of various Germanic compound names containing the element iv, from the Old Norse yr, meaning "yew, bow," a weapon generally made from the wood of a yew tree.

Ives may also have originated as a last name for someone from a town named St. Ives, in the county of Huntingdon, England.

Surname Origin: English, French

Alternate Surname Spellings: YVES, IVESS

Where in the World is the IVES Surname Found?

The Ives surname is now most prevalent in the United States, according to surname distribution data from Forebears. However, it is interestingly the most common surname, based on its percentage of the population, in Gibraltar, followed by England and various island nations such as Bermuda. Despite its possible French origins, the Ives spelling is not at all common in France where only 182 people bear the surname.

The Ives surname around the turn of the 20th century was most common in the United Kingdom, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler, specifically the South East and East Anglia regions of England. Within North America, Ives is most common in Ontario, Canada, followed by Nova Scotia and the U.S. states of Vermont and Connecticut.

Famous People with the Last Name IVES

  • Charles Ives - Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and pianist
  • Burl Ives - American film actor and singer, best known for hits “Frosty the Snowman” and “The Blue Tail Fly.”
  • Chauncey Bradley Ives - American sculptor in Italy
  • George Frederick Ives - last surviving veteran of the Boer War
  • Frederic Eugene Ives - American inventor and pioneer in the field of color photography.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname IVES

Ives Family History Blog
This genealogy blog by William Ives covers the story of William Ives, co-founder of New Haven CT, and many of his descendants, as well as those who married into the family

DNA Signature of William Ives (1607–1648)
This published DNA signature is the result of the Y chromosome testing of 4 male known direct descendants, none of whom are closely related, of William. 

Common French Surnames and their Meanings
Uncover the meaning of your French last name with this free guide to French surname meanings and origins.

Trace Your Family Tree in England and Wales
Learn how to research your English Ives ancestors with this introductory guide to genealogical records and resources of England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Ives Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as an Ives family crest or coat of arms for the Ives surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male-line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

FamilySearch - IVES Genealogy
Explore over 700,000 historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Ives surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website, hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Ives Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the popular last name Ives from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.
  • Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
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Powell, Kimberly. "Ives Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/ives-surname-meaning-and-origin-4068493. Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Ives Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ives-surname-meaning-and-origin-4068493 Powell, Kimberly. "Ives Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ives-surname-meaning-and-origin-4068493 (accessed February 6, 2023).