The Engellenner family history

Researched and written by Torsten Berg, born Reincke (great-great-great-great-greatgrandson of Johann Friedrich Engellenner and Johanna Dorothea Gulbrands)


The surname “Engellenner” is quite rare. In Germany, it is mainly distributed in northern Germany, namely in the region between the cities Schleswig and Flensburg, in the northernmost part of Germany, and in Hamburg. The peninsula located between the fjord “Schlei” that connects Schleswig to the Baltic Sea and the Flensburg fjord is called „Angeln“, or Anglia in English. Outside of Germany, you will find the name in California, USA and in the region of New York city, USA. Also, it can be found in Australia and also in Brasil (but the latter one is probably just historic, I don’t know of any recent living people carrying that name in Brasil). The Engellenner people away from Anglia are all emigrants originally coming from Anglia and actually, also the people in Hamburg (and a few other places in Germany) have their origin in Anglia.

The Engellenner in USA came there at least at three different times, twice to California and once to New York. I will report how this came to happen further below. Also, if there are any members of the Engellenner family out there, in Germany or abroad, who want to contribute to this family history, or who want to comment on what I have written, then please contact me at

The topic that I am currently most interested in, is the fate of my great-grandfather Wilhelm Ernst Eduard Engellenner, born 7 June 1868 in Schleswig. Read about him here. It would be enormously interesting to hear what other members of the family know about him. I do not even have a picture of him and before I started researching him a few years ago, I only knew his name and the name of his cousin, my great-grandmother.

What does the name Engellenner mean?

You may think that the name has something to do with “English”, at least the name “Engellenner” can be interpreted as “Englishman”. This was actually the belief in the family before, that someone once immigrated from England. However, this is not the case. The name is probably (there is no absolut proof yet) based on the fact that the peninsula as the place of origin of the family is called „Angeln“. Actually, the name of this peninsula found its way into the term „anglo-saxon“ because the people from Anglia found their way to Britain together with the Saxons (in the viking and pre-viking time). Here, Anglia is used as a broader geographical term, not only including the peninsula between Schleswig and Flensburg, but also regions north and south from there.

Now, when you pronounce the name using older pronunciation and especially using local dialects, an „Angel-laenner“ or „Engel-lenner“ is a person from the „land of Anglia“ („lenner“ meaning „land“ since the German plural of land is „Laender“ or in the local dialect „Lenner“/„Laenner“/„Länner“). So, the most probable explanation of the name has the meaning „one who lives or comes from the land of Anglia“.