RICHTER Surname Meaning and Family History

The Richter surname often originated in eastern Germany, as a name for the head man of a village, often a hereditary position.
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The Richter surname means one who was "Lord's administrator of a village," an occupational surname derived from the Middle High German rihtære, meaning "judge," in turn derived from the Middle High German rihten, meaning "to make right." This term was frequently used in eastern Germany, where the surname is still most common today, to indicate the head of a village, often a hereditary position. 

RICHTER is the 14th most common German surname.

Surname Origin: German, Czech

Alternate Surname Spellings: RYCHTR, RYCHTAR, RECTOR

Famous People with the Surname Richter

  • Charles Francis Richter - American seismologist and physicist; inventor of the Richter magnitude scale
  • Adrian Ludwig Richter - German artist
  • August Gottlieb Richter - German surgeon
  • Burton Richter - Nobel Prize-winning American physicist
  • Franz Xaver Richter - Czech composer
  • Jeremias Benjamin Richter - German chemist; developer of stoichiometry theory
  • Johan Richter - Norwegian-Swedish engineer and industrialist
  • Gerhard Richter - German painter

Where the Richter Surname Is Most Common

The Richter surname today is most prevalent in Germany, according to surname distribution from Forebears, where it ranks as the 12th most common surname in the country. It is also fairly common in Austria, where it ranks 63rd.

According to WorldNames PublicProfiler, Richter is extremely common in northeastern Germany, especially in Sachsen, but also in Brandenburg, Sachsen-Anhalt and Berlin. Data from agrees, indicating that the largest number of people with the Richter surname in Germany live in Berlin, followed by Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg, Munich, Chemnitz, Region Hannover, Elbe-Eister, Sächsische Schweiz and Freiberg.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname RICHTER

  • German Surnames - Meanings and Origins: Uncover the meaning of your German last name with this guide to the origins of German surnames and the meanings of the top 50 most common German surnames.
  • How to Research German Ancestry: Learn how to trace your German roots back to the old country step by step, from locating your ancestor's German hometown to accessing records in Germany.
  • Richter Family Crest - It's Not What You Think: Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Richter family crest or coat of arms for the Richter 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.
  • Richter Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the Richter surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Richter query.
  • FamilySearch - RICHTER Genealogy: Explore over 11 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Richter surname on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • RICHTER Surname & Family Mailing Lists: RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Richter surname.
  • - RICHTER Genealogy & Family History: Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Richter.
  • GeneaNet - Richter Records: GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Richter surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.
  • The Richter Genealogy and Family Tree Page: Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Richter 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. "RICHTER Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). RICHTER Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "RICHTER Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).