Last name: Banks

This name, with variant spellings Bankes and Banker, derives from the Northern Middle English "bank(e)", itself coming from the Old Danish "banke" meaning a ridge or hillside, and was originally given as a topographical name to someone who lived on the slope of a hillside or by a riverbank. The final "s" on the name preserves the Olde English genitive ending i.e., "of the bank". The surname was first recorded towards the end of the 13th Century (see below). One Matthew Banke appeared in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, dated 1327, and on June 21st 1546, Alse, daughter of John Banks, was christened in St. Antholin's, Budge Row, London. A John Banks of Devon was entered in the Oxford University Register, dated 1597. The famous "dancing horse", Morocco, to which allusion is made by all the best authors of the day, was owned by the Scottish showman, Banks, who flourished 1588 - 1637. The works of Sir Edward Banks (1769 - 1835), who was knighted 1822, include Waterloo, Southwark, and London Bridges. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter del Banck, which was dated 1297, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2015

Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA!

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll

Michael Banks

I'm in a long line of Banks family from Joanna South Carolina. Im currently in Taylors SC.

Ron Banks

I am from the Banks lineage that traces ancestry back to Sir John Banks who was the "Attorney General" of England back in the 1600's. Probably the second most powerful person in England at the time. He purchased Corfe Castle from the family of William the Conqueror. The castle was destroyed in the English Civil War but the remnants still stand today. I think many of the Banks could probably trace their lineage back to this Sir John Banks and I would be interested to hear what you know about your family history if you are from this line. I know a lot of the Banks ended up in Coweta, Georgia. My family ended up in NW Arkansas but not sure how they got there. William Banks, son of Sir John, came to America in the 1600's to Virginia. One of the descendants fought in the American Revolutionary War, don't know which side. Many of our relatives fought in the American Civil War for the South and were part of the Georgia Banks.

Andrew H. Banks

I'm looking for any Banks's from the Hazard Kentucky area. My Father was John Williams "JW" Banks. Born 1944.

. Brenda J. Banks
Hi Everyone,
I am Brenda J. Banks, my dad and his family is from Merriwether, GA although; his father name is John Banks and his Mother name through is Bertha Banks, they are mixed with black foot indian native American of course we know how that came about, my father could originally pass for white and his sisters and brothers, with my sisters and brothers it is 6 of us.

George Banks
I believe that the origin of the name Banks could also be from the 13th century money changers who were originally Italians from Lombardy. They sat on benches (Italian banca) to do their business. This became bank in Middle English, and is the origin of our modern bank. As people often took their name from their profession, my ancestors could have been in the banking business I believe.

hello everybody my name is Banks and I live in Brazil. Someone knows who Banks was the first to come to Brazil? Thanks!!

David Allan Banks
Hello My birth mom's name is Gina Banks, is she part of anyones family by chance?

Bucky Banks

Where are you from.

Susan Banks Hunter
Thanks to my dad's memory, census statistics and Ray Banks website, I have traced back to Elijah Banks around 1776 from Scotland. There is a notation that the name might have been changed from Ballard. Does anyone have any updated information or recommendations for how I can find out more about this? Any DNA sampling from this line?

Banks, Sherry
Susan, I have cousins that have traced back our ancestories to Scotland (I would have to find a VHS player to review the actual location). I have never heard of any name change, and I hope not, as I married a Ballard at one time. Would you happen to have the name of your great or great great grandparents? I would happy to help you search, my email is Drop me a line and I'll see what I can do.

Susan Banks Hunter
Hello Sherry, My great grandfather was Lyman Issaac Banks. His father was Edmund Ridgeway Banks. Any information would be great. My email address is Thanks, Susan Banks Hunter

Dave Banks

Hi Susan, Just returned from Scotland and found that the first recording of the Banks name was in the 17th century on Orkney Island. Still looking for the Banks that left Scotland in the early 1800's and settled in the Virginia's. Cheers, Dave Banks

Susan Banks Hunter

Dave, I think that the Banks who came over from Scotland in my line might have been called Elijah. If you run across any thing on him, please let me know. Thanks, Susan Banks Hunter

darrell j banks author
Banks county ga.

Royston Banks
My original post 24/9/10. Have read with interest the inteceding comments. Paul mentioned a William, my fathers name was Francis Joseph William Banks, as was his father before him.

Paul Banks
Alexander Paul Forbes Banks My fathers name was Peter Banks born in Edinburgh and was a merchant of that city, my brother has traced the family back to 1823 a William Banks from Caithness North Scotland, the surname is also found in Orkney and to this day the ferryman to one of the smaller islands has the surname banks which I have been told that the ferryman with the surname banks goes back many generations

Richard Sisson
There are a lot of Southern Banks that were slave owners. That's where most of African Americans got their surname. There were five Banks brothers that came to Jamestown, VA and they spread out around the South as the generations increased. This is much more plausible. Texas is Southern and was settlled later by 2nd, 3rd and 4th sons that did not inherit the homestead in older Southern states. The Union General Banks story is plausible, but there many white Banks that were slave owners, and slaves usually took their master's surname.

Hello Richard, I am one of those African Americans that has the Banks name in my family. The Banks name is on my mothers side of the family, my grandmothers father name was John Banks which makes him my Great Grand Father. I have always liked the name Banks, it sounds sophisticated to me, my first cousins have the name Banks because of my uncles and yes there are a lot of African Americans with the name Banks and we know why.

Aren't you just an American ??? My ancestors are English, Scottish, German, Irish, and French, but I do NOT go around saying "I'm English-Scottish-German-Irish-French American !!! I'm sure people can tell your race is negro, just as they can tell my race is caucasion.. And my knowing your race they know your ancestors are from equatorial Africa. But they don't know all the countries DNA I carry anymore than they can tell if you're from the Ivory Coast, or Nigeria, or Cameroon, or Ghana, or Guinea, or Sierra Leone, or Togo, or Gabon, or Gambia,, etc. But African American IS a misnomer as you are NOT a descendant of the WHOLE CONTINENT -- YOU ARE ONLY a descendant of the COUNTRIES your ancestors came from, as I am NOT a descendant of ALL of EUROPE -- I AM NOT: Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Greek, ETC. So,, I WOULD NOT SAY "I'm a European-American. I could say "I'm an English-German-Scottish-Irish-French American, but I won't ! I'm an AMERICAN, period !!! And you aren't from: Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa, etc. ! So, you are an AMERICAN, period !!!


Whew, glad you got that off your chest!

John Banks
Raytonne, I am a white American Banks, born in St Louis and living in the Dallas area.I have always wondered about the large number of African Americans with our common name. I have been told that during the American Civil war that General Nathaniel Banks was the commander of the Union forces in Louisiana. I am told that after emmancipation, many freed slaves took the name Banks after their liberator. Makes sense to me.

The Banks surname is English.Forget scots or irish.There is a town in Alabama named Banks,perhaps thats where your ancestor got his surname from.Hope this helps you. B.J.BANKS,Astwick,Bedfordshire,ENGLAND.

Raytonne Banks
I am a Banks from Chicago Illinois in search of where the last name Banks originated from. I am African American and my Grandfather was Henry Louis Banks from Tuskaloosa Alabama.The more I research this last name which according to my family tree traces back to Native American decent, I come to conclude probably traces from England to maybe Virginia or some other New World colony/state,which then may conclude to some slavery plantation! According to my grandfathers birth certificate his father was a Spurgeon Banks.I am very eager to know what my family is mixed with. Most likely a scottish or irish aristocrat in the slave buisness.

Vicki Banks
Hi Raytonne. My name is Vicki Banks. My great-grandfather grew up with the slaves his family owned and used to tell stories about how much fun they all had. He remembered when the slaves were freed that many of them took the name Banks. This was in Tennnesee.

Pamela Banks
Hello I am a Banks from Joilet, Illinois but my father and grandfather is from Whatley, Al which is onbly a few hours from Tuscaloosa AL. I was told that my family was mixed with creek Indian. I don't know how true it is but would love to dig deeper.

Hi, Do you have any family from Mississippi. Cause my great grand mother last name was Banks before she got married and I also was told that her mother was part Native American

I'm a Banks from Memphis,TN. A few years back my family had a reunion and I saw a program that had the orgins of my families' name. I believe it may have been Virginia on a plantation.

Hi Dionne, I also have the name Banks in my family. My Great Grand Fathers name was John Banks and he was from Clarke County, Virginia. I always wondered how that name came about because I like the name. You know that, that is not our original name, slavery has destroyed our history so much. When I look at my family, the generations before me, I see Native American in my family.

D Myers
My Father's original last name is said to have been Banks. He and my mother are said to be from Mississippi. We are now in Joliet also with claimed Native American ancestry.My cousins are James Henry Banks I, II, III.

Tyler banks
I'm from mississippi and I am a banks

Andria Banks
This is definitely interesting, But I do believe that their may be more than one origin of the Banks surname. It is common but not as common as many others. I still do believe that (in the case of Black Americans) it is derived from the slave trade. From what I know my great grandfather (Jesse Banks) is from Mississippi. My grandfather (Richard Banks) was born there and later moved to Memphis before coming to California.

Nathan Banks
I am as well a Banks. I was born in West Virginia. However my father was from Vance Alabama. Near Tuscaloosa. There you will find what is called Banks Quarters, Banks Chapel, Banks Cemetery that is still there today. It has alot of history. I found out that the master of the plantation was name Major Banks and when emmancipation happen he divided up the land into 11 sections and gave it to his slaves. My family still own our section and I am still paying taxes on it. Others has lost thier land. However the Cemetery has over 100 tombs that will date back to the 1600's I took pictures over ever grave maker for historical data. So I am in tune to believe that the civil war General nathaniel banks had something to do with the "Banks" being in the south. However I think many had migrated to Virginia where there is alot of Banks' there also.... However an early post by Raytonne banks I feel we may be related I have heard about the same people you talk about in your

K Banks
My Name is Banks, but my family comes from the village of Banks, Nr Southport Northwest England. There are sandbanks there, could be a clue.

Pat Knowles
My great grandad was george banks and had sons willy and peter and willy was my dads real dad and peter his step dad married kathleen knowles. Her dad robert knowles circa 1900 king williams town s africa. My dad was ronald william banks /knowles 1935-1999. Lookn for info on both families. Knowles from psychic druids salisbury plains-banks united kingdom unsure where from?

David john Banks
David john banks born manchester currently residing usa searching goulding bell levio families

my name is James Banks,and I was born in Stotfold,Bedfordshire,England,and we can trace the family back to the 1700's in the same village.My grandfather James also,a ploughboy,walked to Plymouth,aged 14 in 1880's and sailed to Australia,returned after 5 yrs.he is reputed to have stopped of in S.A.on the way out.Any Banks's out there related to me,perhaps?

Pat Knowles
Hi there. Any george my gr grandadad and his sons peter (passed away 70's) or willy banks members in your family from east london and king williams town in s africa. Unsure other death dates

Royston Banks
I am a South African Banks, but my ancestory is British, my Dad told me that the origin of the Banks family was Scottish (12th/13th century), there were 5 brothers, 2 remained in Scotland whilst 3 went south to England, from here they spread around the world. I have met Banks's in many parts of the world all seem to have English or Scottish ancestory.

amanda simpson
hi this is strange cause i was born in south african and my fathers name was banks. in fact the whole family on my fathers side moved to south africa very coinsidental.

Roy Banks
Hello Amanda, Is your Mum Betty, was married to 'Joey' Banks, your brother Russell?

Royston is atown in Hertfordshire,10 miles from where I live in England,my grandad worked in S.A. IN THE 1880,S,his name was James Banks.

Pat Knowles
Hi there Royston. Do you have any george, peter, or willy banks connections?