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Lam: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

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Lam: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

As the 450th most common family name in the world, chances are you have met someone with the last name Lam. Perhaps it is your last name. If you want to learn more about this family name, we will uncover this name's origin and meaning. We will also explore its historical roots and note famous people with this last name. Finally, we will explore the best practices for researching family history online, whether you are researching the Lam family name or perhaps another last name.

Meaning and Origin of the Lam Family Name

Lam is a common family name or surname in China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. The name means “forest” and has many variations, depending on the country of origin. For instance, in Cantonese, the name is Lin. However, in Korean, Lam may be spelled Im, Yim, or Lim. The Japanese version of Lam is Hayashi. Here is a list of last names related to the family name Lam.

  • Lan
  • Leem
  • Leng
  • Lewn
  • Lim
  • Ling
  • Lng
  • Lo
  • Loh
  • Lum
  • Nam

In some cases, surname variations are created by spelling errors, or perhaps a family member decided to change the spelling of their name. In ancient Chinese culture, men used different names in different circumstances, contributing to the challenges researchers faced when tracing their family history.

The Lam Family Name in Asia

In China, the Lam surname goes back to the Xia Dynasty, making this family name over 4,000 years old. Lam Yi, the earliest documented ancestor in China, served the Yellow Emperor. Famously hard workers, the Lam family became successful merchants and traders who moved across China and into the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. Furthermore, many in the Lam family became prominent Chinese politicians.

It is believed that the Vietnamese branch of this family tree is descended from Chinese immigrants who moved to Vietnam during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Lam family was first recorded in Vietnam in 1337. Lam is now one of the most common family names in Vietnam, where it is usually spelled “Lâm.”

Like many families, the Lam family immigrated all over the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Lam name is now common in Hong Kong and Macau. Furthermore, many immigrated to America, where large populations of the Lam family remain in cities like San Francisco and New York City. Canada was also a popular destination, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.

Today, this family name most commonly appears in Vietnam, South Sudan, and the United States. In Vietnam, one in every 119 people has this last name. Around the world, it is found in 171 countries.

The Great Wall of China
The Lam family name originated in China and then spread throughout Asia.


The Lam Family Name in Europe

However, Lam also has connections to Denmark and the Netherlands. In Dutch and North German, the name Lam is a shortened version of the Lambert surname. In Dutch, it is a topographical name (referring to the family location) meaning “a house distinguished by the sign of the lamb.” However, in Danish, Lam refers to a gentle person, meaning someone as meek as a lamb.

Online Genealogical Records for the Lam Family Name

Ancestry has a wealth of information about the branches of this family tree, noting the many countries in which the family name appears. For instance, between 1840 and 1920, the Lam family name appeared in the United States, Canada, Scotland, and the United Kingdom. Ancestry also notes that in 1940, the top two occupations for those with this family name were laborer and teacher. Farmer, cook, salesperson, and secretary were other common occupations for the Lam family in the United States.

There are over 200,000 family records for the Lam family name, including 82,000 marriage, birth, and death records. There are also census records, military records, and family trees. The more information you gather before beginning your online research, the more fruitful your research will become. In this case, knowing your family's country of origin will be essential information. From that point, you can sift through the appropriate records and variations of the Lam family name.

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Online research can help you discover the roots of your family tree.


How to Research Family Names like Lam

It is essential to begin your research with as much family history as you can gather from your family members. The more firsthand information you gather from family members, the better your chances are of finding your family history. Then, you can cross-reference the family history with the genealogical history records you discover.

Census records are incredibly helpful in genealogical research. They denote the number of people in the family, their ages, and occupations. Some census reports even record immigration dates, which can be immensely helpful when tracing your ancestor's journeys. Census information can then be cross-referenced with other records, like church and cemetery records. Public and academic libraries often keep local genealogy records, too, if you are willing to do some old-school digging. Not all genealogy records have made it to the web.

However, here are some useful genealogy websites to consider.

Chinese genealogy has unique challenges for English-speaking ancestors who are researching their family history. As a result, some researchers may find Asia or China-based genealogical websites to be the most useful.

Fun Facts About the Lam Family Name

Here is some interesting trivia about the Lam family name.

  • There are three different ways to write “Lam” in Chinese script.
  • The Cantonese translation of this family name is “blue.”
  • In Singapore, Lam translates as “to collect or gather.”
  • Most named Lam, who settled overseas, came from two Chinese provinces: Guangdong and Fujian.
  • The surname appeared 55,554 times in the 2010 census. This means nineteen out of every 100,000 people in the United States has the surname Lam.
  • One of the Lam family in Europe had the family motto, “Palma non sine pulvere,” which translates to “The palm is not obtained without labor.”
  • In variations of the Lam surname include Van Lam, Van der Lam, or Lamme.
  • Lam a commonplace name, including Lam, Bavaria in Germany, Lam Brook, a stream in England, and Lam Cốt, a village in Vietnam.
  • Most with the Lam family name identify their religious affiliation as Muslim or Christian.
  • In United States, people with the Lam last name are 14.41% more likely to be registered Democrats than the United States average, with 67.64% registered with the political party.
  • LAM, also known as Los Angeles de la Mañana, was a popular Argentine show airing between 2016 and 2021.

Notable People With the Lam Family Name

Many people with the Lam last name are leaders and innovators in their chosen fields. Here are a few of the most notable and successful people with this surname.

  • Carrie – Politician who is the current Chief Executive of Hong Kong and previously served as the Chief Secretary for Administration.
  • Derek– Creator of his eponymous fashion line, designer Derek Lam also worked with Michael Kors.
  • Eddie Lam – Businessman who co-founded the Media Asia Group.
  • John Lam – The co-founder of Ruby on Rails, he is a well-known computer scientist.
  • Mag Lam – Famous in China for her albums Love Is Light and Mooooody Me. She also appears in the film Diva.
  • Margaret– Famous singer and former beauty queen from Hong Kong.
  • Michelle– Successful comic book artist best known for her animation work with Netflix Animation and Tonko House.
  • Patrick Lam – A former New Zealand rugby player who was also the head coach of the Auckland rugby team.
  • Raymond Lam – Actor and singer best known for the television series Moonlight Resonance and Highs and Lows. He also sold over four million copies of his album First.
  • Sophie– The first female Chair of the Hong Kong Green Building Council and a pioneer in environmentalism and politics.
  • Wilfredo– A Cuban surrealist painter best known for blending modern art with Afro-Cuban imagery.
Top view of Hand drawing a family tree on a sheet of paper
Researching your family name is a rewarding way to explore your family's personal history as well as your family's impact on the world.


In Summary

The Lam family name is a common surname throughout the world today. Originating in China, it spread throughout Asia over the course of several centuries. Today, the name is commonly found in Vietnam and Hong Kong. Additionally, many people with this last name immigrated to Canada and the United States for better opportunities. As a result, both Canada and the United States have many citizens with this last name.

The Lam family name appears in many dialects and has many spelling variations that may make research challenging. As always, historical records, particularly census records, will provide a treasure trove of information. Cross-referencing online information at libraries or with other researchers is always helpful. Websites focusing on Asian family histories may be beneficial to Lam family researchers. While this family name is well-documented, there is much left to discover about the Lam family's history. Happy researching!

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