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

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

The name Griffis 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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The Welsh have an extremely large amount of spelling variations of their native surnames to their credit. It was up to the priest or the scribe taking the official records to determine how the spoken name was to be made literal. As time progressed, the old Brythonic names of Wales were recorded in English, which was especially problematic since the English language had extreme difficulty recording the highly inflected sounds of Cymraeg. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Griffis have included 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 Griffis 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 Griffis 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 Griffis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Griffis 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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During the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Wales journeyed to North America to find a new life. They made major contributions to the arts, industry and commerce of both Canada and the United States, and added a rich cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Griffis:

Griffis Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Margaret Griffis, who arrived in Maryland in 1672

Griffis Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Richd Griffis, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • Thomas Griffis, who arrived in Virginia in 1725

Griffis Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • William Griffis, aged 34, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803
  • War Griffis, aged 34, arrived in America in 1803
  • W. Elliot Griffis, aged 51, who landed in America, in 1895

Griffis Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Howard Griffis, aged 20, who emigrated to the United States from Liverpool, in 1900
  • Mrs. Wm.Elliott Griffis, who emigrated to the United States, in 1906
  • Evelyn Griffis, aged 24, who emigrated to the United States, in 1909
  • Ceil Noel Griffis, aged 22, who landed in America, in 1910
  • Edna Griffis, aged 22, who settled in America, in 1912


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  • William Elliot Griffis (1843-1928), American orientalist, Congregational minister, lecturer, and prolific author
  • Rhoda Griffis (b. 1965), American actress
  • John Elliot Griffis (1893-1968), American composer
  • Larry W. Griffis Jr, American artist, eponym of Griffis Sculpture Park, near Ashford Hollow and East Otto, New York
  • Silas Seth "Sox" Griffis (1883-1950), Canadian athlete of the early 20th century
  • Giuseppe Patroni Griffis (1921-2005), Italian playwright, screenwriter, director and author
  • Arthur Thomas Griffis, Canadian co-founder of Watts, Griffis and McOuat Limited, one of Canada's longest running geological and mining consultants company


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  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Davies, R. R. The Age of Conquest: Wales, 1063-1415. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
  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. Bradsley C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print.
  5. Morgan, T. J. Morgan and Prys Morgan. Welsh Surnames. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1985. Print.
  6. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  7. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  8. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  11. ...

The Griffis Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Griffis 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 6 November 2013 at 14:17.

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