English and Scottish: patronymic from the Middle English and Older Scots personal name Johan, Jo(h)n (see John ) + -son. It was often interchanged with Jenson and Janson . In North America, this surname has absorbed cognates from other languages, e.g. Norwegian, Danish, or North German Johnsen , Johannesen , Johannsen , Johansen , Jansen , Jantzen , and Jensen , Swedish Johnsson (see below), Johansson , Jonsson , and Jansson , Dutch Janssen , German Janz , Czech Jansa 1, and Slovenian Janša (see Jansa 2) and Janežič (see Janezic ). Johnson (including in the sense 2 below) is the second most frequent surname in the US. It is also the second most common surname among Native Americans and a very common surname among African Americans.Americanized form (and a less common Swedish variant) of Swedish Johnsson: patronymic from the personal name John, a variant of Jon (see John ). Compare 1 above.History: Surname Johnson was brought independently to North America by many different bearers from the 17th and 18th centuries onward. Andrew Johnson (1808–75), 17th president of the US, was born in Raleigh, NC, the younger son of Jacob Johnson and Mary (or Polly) McDonough. Little is known of his ancestors. The 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, dates his American forebears back seven generations to James Johnston (sic) (born c. 1662) who lived at Currowaugh, Nansemond, and Isle of Wight counties, VA. — Noted early bearers also include Marmaduke Johnson (died 1674), a printer who came from England to MA in 1660; Edward Johnson (1598–1672), a colonial chronicler who was baptized at St. George's parish, Canterbury, England, and emigrated to Boston in 1630; and Sir Nathaniel Johnson (c. 1645–1713), a colonial governor of Carolina, who came from County Durham, England.
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.