Biffen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Welsh name Biffen is a patronymic surname created from the Welsh personal name Evan. The surname Biffen was originally ab-Evan, or ap-Evan: the distinctive Welsh patronymic prefix "ab" or "ap," means "son of," but the prefix has been assimilated into the surname over the course of time. [1] [2] [3]

"The normal type of Welsh name was a patronymic: Madog ap Jevan ap Jorwerth, ‘Madoc, son of Evan, son of Yorwerth’, a type which resulted ultimately in such names as Pumfrey, Benian, Bevan, etc." [4]

Early Origins of the Biffen family

The surname Biffen was first found in Herefordshire, where they held a family seat from ancient times. One of the first record of the family was Howel ap-Evan who was listed in the Writs of Parliament c. 1300. The Calendarium Rotulorum Chartarum lists Eygneun ap Yevan, but no dates or location is provided. The plural form "Bevans is a double patronymic, part English, part Welsh, ab-Evan-s." [5]

The Welsh "ap Evan" version survived for centuries as a Visitation in London in 1633 listed Rys ap Madoc ap Tudir ap Hoel ap Evan.

Early History of the Biffen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Biffen research. Another 142 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1695, 1560, 1748, 1753, 1923, 1691, 1765, 1602, 1586, 1602, 1589, 1589, 1605 and 1637 are included under the topic Early Biffen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Biffen Spelling Variations

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 Biffen has occasionally been spelled Bevan, Beavan, Beevan, Beaven, Beven, Bevin, Bevins, Bevans, Beavans and many more.

Early Notables of the Biffen family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Silvanus Bevan (1691-1765), Welsh apothecary, who founded the firm Allen & Hanburys; William Bevan, Pen-y-Coed; and Francis Bevans (died 1602) an English lawyer and Principal of Jesus College, Oxford from 1586 to 1602. Elway Bevin was an eminent theoretical and practical musician, the date of whose birth is unknown. He was of Welsh extraction, and received his musical education under Tallis. According to Wood (Ashmole MS. 8568, 106) he was...
Another 78 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Biffen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Biffen family

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 Biffen: Arthur Bevan who settled in Connecticut in 1620; Bartholomew settled in Virginia 1634; Grace Bevan in New England 1654; Thomas Bevan in Maryland in 1663.


Contemporary Notables of the name Biffen (post 1700) +

  • Sir Rowland Henry Biffen (1874-1949), British botanist and geneticist awarded the Darwin Medal in 1920
  • Sarah Biffen (1784-1850), Victorian English painter born with no arms
  • William John Biffen PC, DL (1930-2007), Baron Biffen, a Conservative member of the House of Lords


The Biffen Motto +

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: Semper virtuti constans
Motto Translation: Always constant to virtue.


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)


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