History of your Surname
Get access to Peter family records.Start a free trial

Peter Family History

Peter Name Meaning

English, Scottish, German, Dutch, etc.: from the personal name Peter (Greek Petros, from petra ‘rock’, ‘stone’). The name was popular throughout Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, having been bestowed by Christ as a byname on the apostle Simon bar Jonah, the brother of Andrew. The name was chosen by Christ for its symbolic significance (John 1:42, Matt. 16:18); St. Peter is regarded as the founding head of the Christian Church in view of Christ’s saying, ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church’. In Christian Germany in the early Middle Ages this was the most frequent personal name of non-Germanic origin until the 14th century. This surname has also absorbed many cognates in other languages, for example Czech Petr, Hungarian Péter. It has also been adopted as a surname by Ashkenazic Jews.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

Similar surnames: Petek, Peters, Petter, Pester, Pete, Peer, Deter, Peper, Petr, Reder

Search for a relative to learn more about your family history.

Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

Black & white image of a young woman scientist

Where is the Peter family from?

You can see how Peter families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Peter family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Peter families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1911 there were 233 Peter families living in Ontario. This was about 24% of all the recorded Peter's in Canada. Ontario had the highest population of Peter families in 1911.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Peter surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Peter ancestors do for a living?

In 1921, Farmer and Cannery Hand were the top reported jobs for men and women in the CA named Peter. 37% of Peter men worked as a Farmer and 20% of Peter women worked as a Cannery Hand. Some less common occupations for Americans named Peter were Laborer and Saleslady.

View Census data for Peter | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1921

  • Farmer
  • Labourer
  • Fisherman
  • Laborer

Top Female Occupations in 1921

  • Cannery Hand
  • Farmer
  • Servant
  • Saleslady
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Peter family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 155,000 census records available for the last name Peter. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Peter census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search Canadian census records for Peter

Passenger Lists

There are 57,000 immigration records available for the last name Peter. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in Canada, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Peter immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 33,000 military records available for the last name Peter. For the veterans among your Peter ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all Peter military records

You've only scratched the surface of Peter family history.

Discover More

What is the average Peter lifespan?

Between 1944 and 2004, in the United States, Peter life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2004. The average life expectancy for Peter in 1944 was 25, and 82 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Peter

Discover the unique achievements of ancestors in the Peter family tree

Explore Your Tree
Search for another surname
Start a 14-Day Free Trial