Prince/Printz Family History

From "Brentz" in Duehren, Germany to "Printz" in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to "Prince" in Ohio and Beyond


Is my "Prince" Family part of this "Prince" Line?

Posted by Victor Prince on March 7, 2014 at 8:40 PM

We often get questions about whether a particular person with the last name Prince is part of this particular Brentz/Printz/Prince ancestry line. So unless you already have a link to the Printz family of Virginia or to the Brentz family of Duehren, Germany, the general answer is "it depends, but probably unlikely".  Here is why...

First, as an example, when I search my own "firstname lastname" on, it says there are 27 people named "victor prince" ... and exactly none of them are me.  The amount of information on the internet is amazing, but not quality assured.

Second, it seems from questions we have received that there were other Prince/Printz/Prinz families coming over to America from Germany, England, Sweden and elsewhere in the 1600s and 1700s. Any family coming coming over to America that early probably has a big amount of ancestors in modern America, so it's not surprising that they would find our website. 

Third, "Prince" is a relatively common name in the USA, as there were about 45,000 people in the United States with the surname "Prince" in 2000, according to the US Census that year.  "Prince" was the 700th most prevalent name in the USA, showing up right below Kemp and Mosley and right above Merritt and Hurst in frequency. (Related names Printz and Brentz don't show up in that data set since they were not in the top 1000 USA surnames.)  Also if you enter the last name "Prince" into the website, you get about 20,000 results.

So that begs the question on how many Princes in the US descended from this specific line of Brentz/Printz/Prince.  The short answer is that we have no idea. For fun though, let's do a math exercise to ballpark estimate it.  If Johann Philip Brentz (the single root in America of this surname line) had exactly three male children to carry on the name (which would allow for other children who did not carry on the last name because they were female or did not have children), and all those male children carried on the name by having exactly three male children that similairly carried on the surname etc., and all those male children translated the name to "Prince", math says there would be about 2000 offspring with the surname Prince from this line. According to this exceptionally loose, sloppy and assumption-filled math, that would suggest maybe 1/20th (5%) of people with the last name "Prince" in the USA are from this line.  

I hope that helps, and I am very very open to comments... particularly on my math :-).  The closest thing to data I have is the the 2000 US Census raw data on last names and it is pasted below.


Categories: Genealogy Research, Last Name Spellings