More or less 50 000 people bearing the name Church in the United States. And the bible of American Family Names, the DAFN(Dictionary of American Family Names) says: 1. English, topographic surname of somebody who lived near to a Church. 2. Translation of German Kirch.
In the United States nowadays living 1936 Kirch’s and in Germany 1006. Further, a Castle Garden search of the Name “Church”, resulted in 289 immigrants from England and 227 Kirch’s from Germany who immigrated to The United States. That does mean, that every 3rd Church is most likely of German descent. But really interesting gets the case, if somebody investigates the cognates of Church.
Out of the two most known, Churcher and Churches, the DAFN lists only the second one as follows: English, probably an occupational name who worked at a Church House, a building usually adjoining the church, which served as a parish room.
Unfortunately exists in Germany the name exactly translated into Kirches, which is probably a short form of Kircheisen, a blacksmith who was in service of a church ( like Pfarreisen). Therefor it seems highly probable that Churches is a translated and mutilated form of Kircheisen and has nothing to do with an English ancestry.
More obvious is the case of “Churcher”, a name which is not listed in DAFN.
In 1911, 1476 Churcher are listed in the British Census and in our days 196 in the White pages of the USA. The literal translation of Churcher into German is “Kircher”. Kircher, which comes from Kirchherr is listed in the DAFN with exactly the same explanation, which is offered in “Bahlow’s German Names”.
Till now it seems complicated for an American genealogist to determine parentage for somebody who bears one of these three names.
But till now it was easy, Castle garden lists 7 Kirks, one from the USA, 2 from Great Britain what normally means people of citizienship other than British and 4 from Germany!
The more I am looking into American genealogical studies, the more complicated appears it to me. Because you cannot, as Americans usually do, relate your name automatically to a certain “Country of Origin”.
My doubts are confirmed by the result of autosomal DNA tests, in which for two out of five is certified: “ Genetic Ethnicity summary consistently overestimates the Central European and Scandinavian ancestral components for people whose ancestors came from Great Britain.
But, for an serious genealogist, this result is nothing new.