William History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Welsh name William 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.

Early Origins of the William family

The surname William was 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 William 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 Hundredorum Rolls of 1279 and John Wylyam who was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296.

Early History of the William family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our William research. Another 134 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1500, 1846, 1739, 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 William History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

William Spelling Variations

Compared to other ancient cultures found in the British Isles, the number of Welsh surnames are relatively few, but there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations. These spelling variations began almost as soon as surname usage became common. People could not specify how to spell their own names leaving the specific recording up to the individual scribe or priest. Those recorders would then spell the names as they heard them, causing many different variations. Later, many Welsh names were recorded in English. This transliteration process was extremely imprecise since the Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh used many sounds the English language was not accustomed to. Finally, some variations occurred by the individual's design: a branch loyalty within a family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations were indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The William name over the years has been spelled Williams, Quilliams, Guilliam, Guilliams and others.

Early Notables of the William family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Roger Williams (c.1604-1683), English-born, American clergyman, founder of the colony of Providence Plantation in 1636; Sir Henry Williams, 2nd Baronet (c. 1635-1666), a Welsh politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1661; John Williams, Archbishop of York in 1641; Nathaniel Williams (1656-c.1679), a Welsh writer from Swansea; Sir Trevor Williams, 1st Baronet (c. 1623-1692) of Llangibby, Monmouthshire...
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early William Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the William family to Ireland

Some of the William 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 and printed products wherever possible.


United States William migration to the United States +

Many Welsh joined the great migrations to North America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Like their Scottish and Irish neighbors, many Welsh families left their homeland hoping to find hope and prosperity in a land that the English did not exercise a tight rule over. Those Welsh immigrants that successfully traveled to North America went on to make significant contributions to the rapid development of both Canada and the United States in terms of the settling of land and the establishment of industry. They also added to the rich cultural heritage of both countries. An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name William:

William Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Masser William, who landed in Virginia in 1649 [3]
  • Mack William, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [3]
  • Margaret John William, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1683 [3]
  • Rees John William, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1684 [3]
  • Robert William, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1693 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
William Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johanna William, who arrived in New York in 1709 [3]
  • Paul William, who landed in New York in 1709 [3]
  • Mary William, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1710 [3]
  • Hendrick William, aged 26, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1738 [3]
  • Adam William, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1765 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
William Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry William, aged 28, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [3]
  • William M William, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1825 [3]
  • Bartholomew William, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842 [3]
  • Johann William, aged 31, who landed in America in 1843 [3]
  • Abraham William, aged 28, who arrived in America in 1843 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
William Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mathias William, aged 27, who arrived in New York, NY in 1900 [3]

Canada William migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

William Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Frederick William, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
William Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Honora William, aged 40, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland
  • John William, aged 30, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland
  • Honora William, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland

Australia William migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

William Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. William Abbott, English convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Barwell" in September 1797, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Andrews, English convict who was convicted in Essex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Barwell" in September 1797, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Avery, English convict who was convicted in Sussex, England for life, transported aboard the "Barwell" in September 1797, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Bailey, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Barwell" in September 1797, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Baker, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Barwell" in September 1797, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
William Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Andrews, (b. 1766), aged 49, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life for attempted murder, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1844 [5]
  • Mr. William Barnett, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. William Battie, (McNeil), English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years , transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. William Baxter, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. William Bowman, English convict who was convicted in Essex, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand William migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

William Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Philip William a doctor, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "George Fyfe" in 1842
  • F William, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Northfleet" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, Via Wellington and Lyttleton in February 1854 [6]
  • Mr. William, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Kirkland" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 18th August 1863 [6]
  • John William, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hasquina" in 1870
  • William William, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hasquina" in 1870
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name William (post 1700) +

  • Bernard William, American Republican Congressman from New York in the 1940s and 1950s
  • James William, American professional (NFL) football player
  • Oscar F. William, American politician, U.S. Consul in Manila, 1897 [7]
  • Lewis William, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1940 [7]
  • Mrs. George N. William, American Republican politician, Member of Republican National Committee from Georgia, 1924 [7]
  • Sir Edward William Elgar OM, GCVO (1857-1934), one of the great English orchestral composers, who wrote the popular "Pomp and Circumstance" marches, Cello Concerto and many more
  • John William Gardner (1912-2002), American Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Graham William Nash OBE (b. 1942), English singer-songwriter, best known for his work with the folk-rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Stephen William Hawking CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA (1942-2018), British theoretical physicist, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and co-winner of the 1988 Wolf Prize in Physics; he battled ALS for 55 years
  • Donald William Cameron (1946-2021), Canadian politician from Egerton, Nova Scotia, 22nd Premier of Nova Scotia from February 1991 to June 1993

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Alec William, British Marine, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [8]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Douglas Adamson William, South African Ordinary Seaman from South Africa, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [9]


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


  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)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 29th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barwell
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/baring
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  8. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  9. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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