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

Origins Available: English, Irish

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

The surname Powers came from a nickname for a poor man or a pauper. This name implies a voluntary vow of poverty rather than involuntary destitution. The surname Powers is derived from the Old French word "povre," which comes from the Latin word "pauper," which means "poor". The Gaelic form of the surname is "de Paor," although the proper prefix would be "le."

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Church officials and medieval scribes spelled names as they sounded; therefore, single person, could have his name spelt many different ways during their lifetime. While investigating the origins of the name Powers, many spelling variations were encountered, including: Power, Powers and others.

First found in Devon, where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Powers research. Another 375 words(27 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1188 are included under the topic Early Powers History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Powers Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name Powers:

Powers Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Elizabeth Powers, who arrived in Maryland in 1678

Powers Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • George Powers, who landed in New York in 1769-1770

Powers Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Powers, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Edmond Powers, aged 24, arrived in Missouri in 1844
  • Ann Powers, who landed in New York, NY in 1847
  • Charles, David, Edward, James, John, Martin, Michael, Patrick, and Thomas Powers, who all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860
  • Edward Powers, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878

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  • Hiram Powers (1805-1873), American sculptor
  • John Holbrook Powers (1831-1918), Nebraska pioneer, known as "Honest John," who ran for state governor as a populist in 1892
  • Francis Gary Powers (1929-2000), American U-2 pilot, shot down over Soviet Union airspace, returned to the USA though an East-West spy swap
  • Richard Powers (b. 1957), American novelist
  • Lieutenant John James Powers (1912-1942), American officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1942
  • Private First Class Leo J. Powers (1909-1967), American soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Ron Powers (b. 1941), American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer
  • Stefanie Powers (b. 1942), born Stefanie Zofya Paul, American film and television actress best known for her role in the 1980s television series Hart to Hart
  • Chester "Chet" William Powers Jr. (1937-1994), American singer-songwriter
  • Tom Powers (1890-1955), American stage and film actor

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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  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. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  7. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  11. ...

The Powers Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Powers 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 26 March 2014 at 11:06.

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