Zorn is a family name of German origin meaning "wrath". Historically, it was predominantly strong in German influenced cities such as Strasbourg, Kempten, Innsbruck, and Würzburg. Especially in the town of Strasbourg, it was one of the most influential families containing over 33 family weapons of the various branches of the family. The oldest recorded ancestor is a Burcard Riplin 1197, noted in a historical chronology U135. His grandchildren took the family name Zorn in 1257.
The family name exists, however, in many countries all over the world. Today, the surname Zorn can be frequently found in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Thüringen; it is the 979th most common family name in Germany, and an estimated 8016 individuals in that nation bear the name. Austria is another stronghold of the family name, where it is the 997th most frequent family name, borne by an estimated 1000 individuals. The United States is also a country that has attracted many Zorn immigrants, an estimated 3000 individuals.
The Zorns are also an old Strasbourg patrician family, which is amongst the oldest noble families in Alsace. The Zorns were kinsmen of the Riplin family, who are first recorded in 1197 through "Burcardus qui dicitur Riplin". The family were widespread in the free Imperial city of Strasbourg and in all of Alsace. In 1253, the sons of the Strasbourg city councillor Hugo Ripelinus -- the head of the familial line -- are given as Nicolaus, known as "Zorn" (mentioned 1252-1295), and Rulin Ripel (mentioned 1253-1305).
Nikolaus Zorn, who became city councillor in 1258 and Burgrave of Strasbourg in 1281, is the originator of (amongst others) the Zorn-Engelbrecht, Zorn-Hageneck, Zorn-Schultheiß, Zorn von Wiehersberg, and Zorn von Plobsheim families. They were named either after their mothers, their ancestral seat, or the office of Schultheiß of Strasbourg, which they exercised. Nikolaus Zorn's brother Rulin, who was made the 73rd mayor of Strasbourg in 1263, was the father of the Rulenderin family and, through his son Hugo, who was knighted in 1300, the Zorn von Bulach family.
Over the course of the years, further lines formed, including the families of Weißzorn, Zorn zum Riedt, Zorn zu Ryneck, and Jungzorn. The families of Bilgerin von Ehrenheim, Schenck von Hagenau, Schöneck, and Turant had the same coats of arms, but with different crests.
The names "Riplin" (Rüpel in German translates as "ruffian") and "Zorn" (wrath) might point to a violent disposition, which is supported by several feuds that were waged. The fiercest of these was on 20 May 1332, a bloody street battle between the Zorns and another important noble family of Strasbourg, the Müllenheims, in which seven noblemen of the Zorn group were killed. Due to the rivalry between the two families, the town hall had two entrances, one each for the Müllenheims and the Zorns. The two banks of the river Ill were likewise named after the two families: the Quai Müllenheim and the Quai Zorn.
Up until the 18th century, the Zorns played a prominent role in the city council. They owned extensive property in the city and its surrounding areas, and were related by marriage to several noble families.
The Zorn von Bulach family's rank of Freiherren (barons), held by customary law, was officially confirmed in 1773 by their sovereign ruler. The lords of Zorn belonged in the 16th and 17th centuries to the Imperial Knights in the Knight Canton Odenwald. Members of the Zorn von Bulach line were in the 18th and 19th centuries were matriculated in the Knight Canton Neckar-Schwarzwald (of the Swabian knight county), and from 1660 in the knight county of Lower Alsace due to their possession of Enzheim, Gerstheim, and Osthausen. The Zorn von Plobsheim members were also members of the knight county of Lower Alsace from the 17th to the 18th centuries.
In the church of St. Pierre Le Jeune in Strasbourg, there is a chapel from 1320 which is named after the family.
Well-known people with the surname Zorn:
Anders Zorn (1860-1920), Swedish painter,
Benjamin Zorn (born 1960), computer scientist, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research,
C. Rudolph Zorn (1844-1916), American politician and farmer,
Eric Zorn (born (1958), columnist for the Chicago Tribune, grandson of Max Zorn,
Jim Zorn (born 1952), former National Football League quarterback and head coach,
Johannes Zorn (1739-1799), German pharmacist, botanist, and botanical illustrator,
John Zorn (born 1953), American composer and saxophonist,
Max August Zorn (1906-1993), German-born American mathematician,
Pete Zorn (born 1950), American-born British musician,
Trischa Zorn (born 1964), American swimmer, the most successful Paralympian of all time,
François Zorn von Bulach (1828-1890), Alsatian politician,
Franz Zorn von Bulach (1858-1925), auxiliary bishop of Strasbourg,
Hugo Zorn von Bulach (1851-1921), Alsatian politician and member of the Reichstag,
Wolf Christoph Zorn von Plobsheim (1665-1721), German Baroque architect