Select Roth Surname Genealogy

The Roth surname is Germanic in origin.  The most likely explanation of the name is that it derived from the German rot meaning “red” and was perhaps at first a nickname for someone with red hair.  However, there have been many explanations.

Roth is also Jewish.  It first appeared as an ornamental name in the 18th century when
Jewish Ashkenazi refugees were arriving in Germany from the Balkans and Turkish Empire.

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Select Roth Ancestry

The Rote spelling first appeared in Germany in the 12th century.  Roth appeared as a place-name in Bavaria and the Rhineland-Palatinate.  Roth as a surname seems to have had its origins in Bavaria.  One family from Wunsiedel in NE Bavaria dates from the early 1500’s.  Heinrich Roth was a Jesuit missionary who grew up in Augsburg in south Bavaria in the 1600’s.

The name spread across Germany’s southern borders into Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary.  The legend of Hans Roth of Rumisberg in the Swiss canton of Bern dates back to 1382.  Johannes Roth was a Burgomeister at Basel in 1444.  The Rott name was recorded among Swiss Anabaptists in the 1530’s; while Hans Roth was preaching at Kitzbuhel in Austria at that time. 

The Roth numbers today are approximately:
  • 70,000 in Germany (with the largest numbers in Munich)   
  • 5,000 in Switzerland  
  • 3,000 in Austria  
  • and 1,000 in Hungary. 
Roth arrivals in the US were mainly from these four countries.  Some also came from what was then the Russian Empire. 

.  There were a few instances of Roth being a native English name.  But most Roths in England, mostly found in London, have come from Germanic immigrants.  Mathias Roth who arrived in the 1840’s as a Hungarian refugee became a well-known London medical practitioner.

.  Many early Roths from Germany who came to Pennsylvania changed their name to the more anglicized Rhoads or Rhodes: 
  • Johann Rodt, for instance, arrived in Philadelphia from Wurttemberg with his wife and three sons in 1717.  They settled in what became Berks county.  The family spelling here was sometimes Roth, but subsequently became Rhoads. 
  • Heinrich Roth arrived from the German Palatinate in t737 and later settled as Henry Rhoads in Frederick county, Maryland.
  • while Anthony Roth, also from Wurttemberg, came in 1752 and settled in York county, Pennsylvania.  His children were Rhodes.  
Another Roth-to-Rhoads change occurred later after Reuben Roth who had fought in the Civil War with the 176th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.  His son A.J. Roth headed west and changed his name to Rhoads.

One Roth family in Pennsylvania who remained Roth (except for a son Peter) was the descendant line from Daniel Roth who had arrived from Switzerland in 1733 and settled in Lehigh, Pennsylvania.  Christian Roth migrated with his family to Ohio as a young boy in 1821. 

Nicolaus Roth was a Mennonite minister from Baden in Germany.  He never made it to America.  But his widow Veronica and children did in 1837, settling in Illinois.  Son Daniel
served as the minister of the Pleasant Grove Mennonite church at Tremont, Illinois; grandson Roy pastor of the Pleasant Hill church at East Peoria, Illinois.  Joseph Roth, also from Baden, came with his family in 1840, settling in Albany, New York.  His son Henry worked on the railroads there.

William Roth had been born in Hawaii in 1880, the son of an Austrian immigrant.  He married the heiress Lurlene Matson in 1913 and then joined the Matson shipping business.  He built up a fleet of luxury liners that helped spur mass tourism to Waikiki.   His son William was to carry on in the family business. 

  Jewish Roths came later.  Among noteworthy arrivals were: 
  • Emery Roth from Austria-Hungary in 1884, aged 13.  He designed many of the distinctive New York hotels and apartment buildings of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
  • and Henry Roth also from Austria-Hungary in 1908, aged just two.  Educated in New York, he became a writer, but with a writer’s block that lasted over fifty years.  
Al Roth, the bridge player from the Bronx, and Philip Roth, the writer from Newark, were the sons of immigrant parents. 

  Adam Roth from Baden in Germany arrived in Sydney with his family in 1857.  After working initially as a cooper, he bought land in the Mudgee district and established a winery on his Rothview property.  The winery stayed with the Roth family until 1969.

Holocaust survivor Henry Roth arrived in Australia in 1947 and made a foray into the fashion industry, establishing the London Fashion outlet. He sold the chain after twenty years and invested in commercial properties.  These were inherited by his sons John and Stanley when Roth died in 2000.  The Roths are now amongst the richest families in Australia

Select Roth Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Roth Names

Mathias Roth was a well-known homeopathic medical practitioner in London in the mid-19th century.
Al Roth
 was an American bridge player, considered one of the greatest of all time.
Henry Roth
,from Jewish roots, was a 20th century American novelist with a writer’s block.
Philip Roth
, also from Jewish roots, is an American novelist, one of the most awarded writers of his generation

Select Roths Today
  • 28,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in UK)

Select Surname List

For other surnames check the select surname list where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 common and notable surnames in the English-speaking world.