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

Origins Available: English, Welsh

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

The Phelps surname was derived from the personal names Phelp or Philp, which were pet-forms of the personal name Philip. This name, usually Latinized as Philippus, was originally derived from the Greek name Philippos. This Greek name was composed of the words "philein," which means "to love," and "hippos," which means "horse." The personal name Philip owed its popularity to the medieval romances about Alexander the Great, whose father was Philip of Macedon.


Although there are not an extremely large number Welsh surnames, there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations of those surnames. This variety of spellings began almost immediately after the acceptance of surnames within Welsh society. As time progressed, these old Brythonic names were eventually were recorded in English. This process was problematic in that many of the highly inflected sounds of the native language of Wales could not be properly captured in English. Some families, however, did decide to modify their own names to indicate a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even a patriotic affiliation. The name Phelps has seen various spelling variations: Phelps, Phellps, Phelpe, Phelpes, Phelphes and others.

First found in Monmouthshire (Welsh: Sir Fynwy), where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Phelps research. Another 199 words(14 lines of text) covering the year 1283 is included under the topic Early Phelps History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


The Welsh migration to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries contributed greatly to its rapid development. These migrants were in search of land, work, and freedom. Those Welsh families that survived the long ocean journey were critical to the development of new industries and factories, and to the quick settlement of land. They also added to an ever-growing rich cultural heritage. A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Phelps:

Phelps Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Phelps, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • George, Richard, Nathaniel, Sarah, Samuel, and William Phelps, who all settled in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1630
  • George Phelps, who landed in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1630
  • Samuel Phelps, who landed in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1630
  • Henry Phelps, who arrived in New England in 1634

Phelps Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Roger Phelps, who arrived in Virginia in 1714

Phelps Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Lewis Phelps, who landed in Mississippi in 1853
  • Andrew Phelps, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876


  • Edward John Phelps (1822-1900), American diplomat, and lawyer, who was the ambassador to Britain (1885-1889)
  • William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943), American literary critic
  • Jaycie Phelps, American gymnast
  • Private Wesley Phelps, American soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Michael Fred Phelps (b. 1985), American Olympic swimmer, winner of 18 gold, two sliver, and two bronze Olympic medals
  • Edmund Strother Phelps Jr. (b. 1933), American economist, winner of the 2006 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
  • William Wines Phelps (1792-1872), early American leader of the Latter Day Saints
  • John Jay Phelps (1810-1869), American railroad baron and financier, one of the founders of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
  • John Wolcott Phelps (1813-1885), Union Army general in the American Civil War
  • Brigadier-General Joseph Vinvil Phelps (1898-1981), American Senior Instructor to Pennsylvania National Guard (1948-1949)



  • Phelps Family from Z to A by William Herald Swango.
  • Phelps-Marshall Kinship by Nancy G. McBride.

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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  3. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  4. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-005-8).
  9. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  10. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  11. ...

The Phelps Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Phelps 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 18 September 2014 at 10:32.

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