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

Origins Available: French, Irish, Jewish, Welsh

Where did the Welsh Davis family come from? When did the Davis family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Davis family history?

The Welsh Davis surname is a patronymic, meaning son of David. Ultimately derived from the Hebrew name "David," meaning "beloved," the name became a popular given name throughout Medieval Europe due to the biblical king David of Israel. The popularity of the name was further increased in Britain due to it being the name of the Patron Saint of Wales. Little is known about Saint David, but he is thought to have been a 6th century monk and bishop. The name came to be used as a patronymic name by the Brythonic people of Wales. One of the most famous bearers of this personal name in Wales was David ap Gryffydd, the last Prince of North Wales, who was executed c. 1276 by King Edward I of England.


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 Davis has occasionally been spelled Davies, Davis, Divis and others.

First found in Flintshire (Welsh: Sir y Fflint), a historic county, created after the defeat of the Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd in 1284, and located in north-east Wales, where the Davis family held a family seat from very ancient times. They were descended from Cynrig Efell, Lord of Eglwysegle, the twin son of Madog ab Maredadd, the great grandson of Bleddyn ap Cynvin, Prince of Powys, head of the honorable and worthy third Royal Tribe of Wales, who was traitorously murdered in 1073 by the men of Ystrad Tywi, after he had governed all Wales for 13 years. Directly descended from this line was John ap Davydd (John Davies of Gwasanau in the county of Flint).


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Davis research. Another 129 words(9 lines of text) covering the years 1550, 1605, 1605, 1675, 1667, 1675, 1680, 1688, 1680, 1625, 1693, 1692, 1715, 1667, 1739, 1690, 1719, 1718, 1719, 1600, 1672, 1633, 1687, 1646, 1689, 1670, 1716, 1667, 1739 and are included under the topic Early Davis History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 307 words(22 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Davis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Davis family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 389 words(28 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


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 Davis:

Davis Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Dolor Davis, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1634
  • Isbell Davis, aged 22, landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Dorothy Davis, who arrived in Virginia in 1636
  • Christopher Davis, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1636
  • Jenkin Davis, who landed in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1637

Davis Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Faith Davis, who landed in Virginia in 1700
  • Johannah Davis, who landed in Virginia in 1702
  • Duke Davis, who landed in Virginia in 1703
  • Issabella Davis, who arrived in Virginia in 1705
  • Geo Davis, who landed in Virginia in 1714

Davis Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Hugh Davis, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • William Davis, William Davis, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1803-1827
  • Wm Davis, who landed in America in 1805
  • James Davis, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1806
  • John Davis, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808

Davis Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • A M Davis, who arrived in Mississippi in 1906
  • Albert Henry Davis, who arrived in Colorado in 1907
  • Henry Vincent Davis, who arrived in Alabama in 1917


  • Raymond "Ray" Davis Jr. (1914-2006), American scientist who has won many awards for his scientific work, most notably the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics for detecting solar neutrinos
  • Sammy George Davis Jr. (1925-1990), well-known and prolific American singer, dancer, and actor and the only black member of Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack." In 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Miles Dewey Davis III (1926-1991), American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer considered one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century
  • Geena Davis (b. 1956), American actress, film producer, writer, former fashion model, and a women's Olympics archery team semi-finalist
  • Edward "Lockjaw" Davis (1921-1986), American jazz tenor saxophonist
  • Calvin Davis (b. 1972), American athlete who won the bronze medal in the men's 400 meter hurdles at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Joshua "Josh" Clark Davis (b. 1972), American swimmer who won multiple gold and silver Olympic medals at the 1996 and 2000 games
  • Dwight Filley Davis (1879-1945), 49th United States Secretary of War (1925-1929) and avid tennis enthusiast, eponym of the Davis Cup
  • Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916), American writer and journalist famous for his coverage of the Spanish-American War, the Second Boer War, and the First World War
  • Stuart Davis (1894-1964), early American modernist painter



  • From the Rhondda Valley to the Clinch River Valley and Beyond: A Genealogy of the Descendants of John Davies (also Daivis) by Billie Ruth McNamara.
  • Amos Williams Davis: Family History, Including His Ancestors and Descendants by Eunice Freese Payne.


  1. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  2. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  3. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  4. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  5. Davies, R. R. The Age of Conquest: Wales, 1063-1415. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Thirsk, Joan ed. Et. Al. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  9. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  10. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 13 October 2014 at 07:40.

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