Recorded in several forms including Eric, Erick, Erik, and the patronymics Ericssen, Erickssen, Ericson, Ericsson, Erickson, Eriksson and others, this is one of the most famous surnames of Scandanavia. It is also one which is widely recorded in Scotland, Iceland and the Faroes, and was arguably the first European name to reach the shores of North America through the exploits of Leif Eriksson, the son of Eric, the Red, who is believed to have landed there in the year 1000. The name Eric derives from an ancient Norse word meaning king, and is probably from the same Germanic root as 'reich', meaning to rule. The majority of Scandanavian surnames are patronymics, although they rarely became hereditary in the manner of German or British surnames until the 18th century. Then not only did the name spellings become 'fixed', but the various governments sought to encourage the creation of new names new ornamental names away from the patronymics such as Andersson or the various forms of Eric + son. They have not been entirely successful in their quest. Early examples of this surname include Lawrence Erickson of Breck in the Shetland Isles, Scotland, in the year 1613, whilst John Ericsson (1803 - 1889) was one of the most famous inventors of the 19th century. Born in Sweden he went to the United States where he developed the first steam turbine in 1839, and later in 1862 the famous 'ironclad' warship known as Monitor. He is also credited with developing the first 'destroyer' in 1881.
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