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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Welsh-Alt, Welsh

Where did the Welsh Griffiths family come from? What is the Welsh Griffiths family crest and coat of arms? When did the Griffiths family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Griffiths family history?

The name Griffiths is from the rugged landscape of Wales. It is a Celtic name that was derived from the Welsh personal names Griffin, Gruffin, or Griffith. These were pet-forms of the Middle Welsh name Gruffudd, which was borne by many Welsh princes. The most prominent of these was Griffith ap Cynan, the King of North Wales and the founder of the first Royal tribe of Wales; he was the eldest son of Rhodri Mawr, the first recorded King of Wales.

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Welsh surnames are relatively few in number, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. There are many factors that explain the preponderance of Welsh variants, but the earliest is found during the Middle Ages when Welsh surnames came into use. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, which often resulted in a single person's name being inconsistently recorded over his lifetime. The transliteration of Welsh names into English also accounts for many of the spelling variations: the unique Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh had many sounds the English language was incapable of accurately reproducing. It was also common for members of a same surname to change their names slightly, in order to signify a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations. For all of these reasons, the many spelling variations of particular Welsh names are very important. The surname Griffiths has occasionally been spelled Griffith, Griffiths, Gryffudd, Gryffuths and others.

First found in Chirk, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, descended from the ancient Princes of Wales.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Griffiths research. Another 495 words(35 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1392, 1332, 1601, 1666, 1599, 1665, 1618 and 1690 are included under the topic Early Griffiths History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 71 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Griffiths Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Griffiths family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 87 words(6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in search of land, work, and freedom. These immigrants greatly contributed to the rapid development of the new nations of Canada and the United States. They also added a rich and lasting cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Griffiths:

Griffiths Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Griffiths settled in Barbados in 1634
  • Griffith Griffiths settled in Virginia in 1663

Griffiths Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • James Griffiths, who landed in Carolina in 1709
  • Samuel Griffiths, who arrived in America in 1715-1716
  • Ann Griffiths, who arrived in America in 1764

Griffiths Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Henry Griffiths, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • Edward Griffiths, who arrived in New York in 1845
  • J Griffiths, aged 48, arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1847
  • Evan Griffiths, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • R R Griffiths, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851


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  • Henry W. Griffiths Jr. (1916-1997), Idaho railroad photographer
  • John Willis Griffiths (1809-1882), American naval architect who designed the first true clipper ship
  • Phillip Griffiths (b. 1938), American mathematician, co-winner of the 2008 Wolf Prize
  • Terry Griffiths OBE (b. 1947), retired Welsh snooker player
  • Sir Percival Griffiths (1899-1992), English Knight, colonial administrator, businessman and historian, who spent his working life in India
  • Cecil Redvers Griffiths (1901-1945), British winner of the Olympic Gold medal in 4 x 400m relay at the 1920 Summer Olympics
  • Ciaran Joseph Griffiths (b. 1983), British actor
  • Colin Griffiths (b. 1983), English comedian
  • Rachel Anne Griffiths (b. 1968), Australian Golden Globe-winning, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-nominated film and television actress
  • Richard Griffiths OBE (b. 1947), Tony award-winning English actor

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  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  2. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  3. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  4. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  5. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  7. Rowlands, John, John Rowlands and Sheila Rowlands. Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1999. Print. (ISBN 080631620).
  8. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  9. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Griffiths Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Griffiths Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 4 June 2014 at 15:51.

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