Richard: Surname Meaning and Family History

Richard the Lionheart
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Derived from the given name Richard and meaning "powerful or brave," the Richard surname is Germanic in origin, composed of the elements ric, meaning "power" and hard, meaning "hardy or brave." 

Richard is the 6th most common last name in France.

Surname Origin: French


Famous People with the Surname Richard

  • Maurice Richard - Canadian ice hockey star; first NHL player to reach 50 goals in a season
  • Cliff Richard - British film actor and singer; dubbed the "British Elvis Presley"
  • Achille Richard - French botanist and physician
  • Édouard Richard - Canadian historian and politician
  • Étienne Richard - French composer and harpsichordist
  • Fleury François Richard - French painter
  • Jules Richard - French mathematician who stated Richard's paradox
  • Paul Richard - Mayor of New York, 1735–1739

Where the Richard Surname is Most Common

According to surname distribution from Forebears, the Richard surname today is interestingly found in the greatest numbers in Tanzania, where more than 90,000 people bear the surname. It is also extremely common in France, ranking as the 9th most common last name in the country, and Canada, where it ranks 58th. Richard is the 511th most common surname in the United States.

Surname maps from WorldNames PublicProfiler indicate the Richard surname is by far the most common in areas with at least a partial French-speaking population, including New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in Canada, Louisiana in the United States, and the regions of Pays-de-la-Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine (formerly Poitou-Charentes), Lorraine, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (formerly Franche-Comté), Centre, Bretagne and Champagne-Ardenne in France.

Genealogy Resources

  • French Surname Meanings and Origins: Does your last name have origins in France? Learn about the various origins of French surnames and explore the meanings of some of the most common French last names.
  • How to Research French Ancestry: Learn about the various types of genealogical records available for researching ancestors in France and how to access them, plus how to locate where in France your ancestors originated.
  • Richard Family Crest: It's Not What You Think: Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Richard family crest or coat of arms for the Richard 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.
  • Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the Richard surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Richard query.
  • FamilySearch: Explore over 12 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Richard surname and variations on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Richard.
  • GeneaNet: Richard Records: GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Richard surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.
  • The Richard Genealogy and Family Tree Page: Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Richard surname 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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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "Richard: Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Richard: Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Richard: Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).