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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish


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, le Poer and others.

First found in Devon, where they were descended from Rivalon, Lord of Poncar, in Brittany. Bartholomew Poher was granted lands in Devon and was Lord of Blackborough and was father of Robert Poher (sometimes called Sir Roger or Robert le Poer) who accompanied Strongbow in the Irish invasion in 1172. They were granted the county of Waterford by Strongbow and became active in the Government of Waterford and the whole of Ireland. [1] The original settler Robert was killed in 1188 but his many sons and grandchildren established a name which would eventually become as Irish as the native Irish. Another source provides more details: "The immediate descendant of Norman Le Poer, or Power, was Sir Roger Le Poer, Knt., who accompanied Strongbow to Ireland, and obtained for his services three considerable territorial grants. He was ancestor of the Lords de la Poer, now represented by the Marquess of Waterford, and the many eminent families of Power in the South of Ireland, the Powers of Clashmore, Faithlegg, Kilfane, Belleville, etc." [2]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Powers research. Another 131 words (9 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 United States in the 17th Century


  • Elizabeth Powers, who arrived in Maryland in 1678

Powers Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


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

Powers Settlers in 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

Powers Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. Henry Powers U.E. who settled in Shefford Township, Eastern Townships [La Haute-Yamaska Regional County Municipality], Quebec c. 1784 an associate of Captain John Savage
  • Mr. Richard Powers U.E. who settled in Shefford Township, Eastern Townships [La Haute-Yamaska Regional County Municipality], Quebec c. 1784 an associate of Captain John Savage

Powers Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Samuel Powers, English convict from Worcester, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Powers, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Ann Powers, English convict from Northampton, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Eliza Powers, aged 18, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Europa"
  • Ellen Powers, aged 20, a cook, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Oriental,"

Powers Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Powers arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856

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  • Georgia Montgomery Davis Powers (1923-2016), American politician, first female and African-American member of the Kentucky State Senate (1968-1989)
  • Major-General Edward Michael Powers (1892-1977), American Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Material, Headquarters US Air Force (1947-1949)
  • Patrick "Pat" Robert Powers (b. 1958), American two-time gold medalist volleyball player
  • Jeff Powers (1980-2008), American silver medalist water polo player at the 2008 Summer Olympics
  • William Charles Powers Jr. (b. 1946), American educator, the 28th president of The University of Texas at Austin
  • Timothy Thomas "Tim" Powers (b. 1952), American science fiction and fantasy author
  • Tom Powers (1890-1955), American stage and film actor
  • Chester "Chet" William Powers Jr. (1937-1994), American singer-songwriter
  • 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
  • Ron Powers (b. 1941), American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  2. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  3. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  4. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  5. 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).
  6. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  8. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  10. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. 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 18 March 2016 at 18:17.

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