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

Origins Available: German, Welsh

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

The Welsh name Williams is a patronymic surname derived from the personal name William, which is in turn derived from the Old German names Willihelm and Willelm (the Norman French version was Guillaume). Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, William became the most popular personal name in Britain for a time.


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 Williams has occasionally been spelled Williams, Quilliams, Guilliam, Guilliams and others.

First found in Breconshire and Monmouthshire on the English/ Welsh border, where they are traditionally believed to be descended from Brychan Brecheiniog who was Lord of Brecknock at the time of King Arthur of the Round Table. The mediaeval seat of the ancestors of the Williams family was at Llangibby Castle in County Monmouth. More recently, the family is descended through Rhys Goch, the red haired Lord Ystradyw from Caradog Vreichvras. One of the first records of the name was listed as Robertus filius Willelmi [1] which was listed in the Domesday Book. [2] Other early records include Richard Williams who was listed in the Hundred Rolls of 1279 and John Wylyam who was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Williams research. Another 137 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 1500, 1604, 1683, 1636, 1635, 1666, 1660, 1661, 1641, 1656, 1679, 1623, 1692, 1668, 1696, 1689, 1696, 1688, 1696, 1621, 1712, 1675, 1679 and are included under the topic Early Williams History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 261 words(19 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Williams Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Williams family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 161 words(12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included 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 Williams:

Williams Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • David Williams and Elizabeth Williams, who both settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Edward Williams settled in Virginia in 1624
  • Richard Williams, who came to Maine in 1630
  • Anto Williams, aged 14, arrived in St Christopher in 1635
  • Davie Williams, aged 17, arrived in Barbados in 1635

Williams Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Agnes Williams, who arrived in Virginia in 1717
  • Elizabeth Williams, who arrived in Carolina in 1724
  • Alexander Williams, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746
  • Alice Williams, who immigrated to Maryland in 1749
  • Elijah Williams, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1795

Williams Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Timothy Williams, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808
  • John Williams, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812
  • Albert Williams, aged 24, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1814
  • George Williams, who came to Boston in 1822
  • Caroline Williams, who arrived in New York, NY in 1826


  • Major Charles Quincy Williams (1933-1982), United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Vietnam War
  • Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), well-known American playwright, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, 1948 and 1955 and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Archie Williams (1915-1993), American engineer and Olympic gold medalist at the 1936 Olympic Games
  • Hiram King Williams (1923-1952), better known as Hank Williams Sr., popular country music singer and songwriter
  • Robin Williams (1951-2014), American Academy Award-winning entertainer, actor, and comedian
  • Richard "Dick" Norris Williams II (1891-1968), famed American tennis player and a survivor of the RMS Titanic disaster in April 1912 by escaping in life boat A
  • Myrna Williams (1905-1993), original name of Myrna Loy, American actress, best known for her roles with William Powell in the Thin Man films
  • Jody Williams (b. 1950), American teacher and aid worker awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981), American jazz pianist
  • John Towner Williams (1932-1839), American composer, conductor, and pianist, five-time winner of the Academy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards and 21 Grammy Awards



  • The Ancestors and Descendants of Ebenezer and Martha Porter Williams of Painesville, Ohio by Percy Williams Lewis.
  • The Ancestor; The World of William Williams by John Francis Williams.
  • Diamonds in the Desert: The Family History of Bill and Gertie Williams by Billie William Yost.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ensuivant la verite
Motto Translation: By following the truth.


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  1. ^ Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  7. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  9. Thirsk, Joan ed. Et. Al. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  11. ...

The Williams Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Williams 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 25 October 2014 at 15:02.

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