Show ContentsGwynne History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

From the Celtic land of Wales came the name Gwynne. This name initially evolved from person with light-colored hair or a pale complexion; the surname Gwynne may have also been applied to someone who habitually wore white or pale-colored clothing. The name Gwynne, one of only a few Welsh nickname surnames, is derived from the Welsh word "gwyn," which means "fair" or "white." Other references claim the name is derived from the words "llwch" meaning "dust" or gwin meaning "wine." [1] [2]

According to Welsh tradition, the Adar Llwch Gwin were giant birds given to Drudwas ap Tryffin by his fairy wife. The birds obeyed their master and assisted him in battle. The term later appeared in Welsh poetry to describe hawks, falcons and occasionally brave men.

Gwenwynwyn (d. 1218?), Prince of Powys, "was the eldest son of Owain Cyveiliog, prince of Powys. In 1186 he is first mentioned as joining with his brother Cadwallon in slaying Owain, son of Madog, by treachery. In 1196 he was engaged in war with Archbishop Hubert Walter and an army of English and North Welsh. His castle of Trallong Llewelyn was besieged and taken by undermining the walls; but the garrison escaped, and before the end of the year Gwenwynwyn again took the castle ." [3]

Early Origins of the Gwynne family

The surname Gwynne was first found in Breconshire (Welsh: Sir Frycheiniog), a traditional county in southern Wales, which takes its name from the Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog (5th-10th centuries.) "Gwyn, however, is a very old and has often been a distinguished South Wales name, especially in Brecknockshire." [4]

Thomas filius Win was listed in Shropshire in 1255; and Wyn, Win was found in Ellesmere in 1280. [5]

Early History of the Gwynne family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gwynne research. Another 100 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1508, 1537, 1584, 1584, 1537, 1584, 1584, 1970, 1623, 1673, 1654, 1662, 1648, 1734, 1650, 1687, 1543, 1515 and are included under the topic Early Gwynne History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gwynne Spelling Variations

There are relatively few surnames native to Wales, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. Early variations of Welsh surnames can be explained by the fact that very few people in the early Middle Ages were literate. Priests and the few other literate people were responsible for recording names in official documents. And because most people could not specific how to properly record their names it was up to the individual recorder of that time to determine how a spoken name should be recorded. Variations due to the imprecise or improper recording of a name continued later in history when names originally composed in the Brythonic Celtic, language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, were transliterated into English. Welsh names that were documented in English often changed dramatically since the native language of Wales, which was highly inflected, did not copy well. Occasionally, however, spelling variations were carried out according to an individual's specific design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by minor variations. The spelling variations of the name Gwynne have included Gwynne, Gwin, Gwine, Gwinn, Gwinne, Gwyn, Gwynn and many more.

Early Notables of the Gwynne family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Saint Richard Gwyn (ca. 1537-1584), also known as Richard White, a Welsh school teacher, martyred high treason in 1584 but later canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970; George Gwynne (c 1623-1673), a Welsh politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1654 and 1662; Francis Gwyn PC (1648-1734), a Welsh politician and official; and Eleanor "Nell" Gwyn...
Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gwynne Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gwynne family to Ireland

Some of the Gwynne family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gwynne migration to the United States +

Many Welsh families joined their Scottish and Irish neighbors during the late 1800s and early 1900s in seeking refuge in North America. Like the Irish and Scottish, many Welsh anxiously awaited the work, freedom, and opportunities that they believed lay in North America. Those who did journey over to the United States and what became known as Canada often realized those dreams, but only through much toil and perseverance. Whenever and however these Welsh immigrants arrived in North America, they were instrumental in the creation of the industry, commerce, and cultural heritage within those two developing nations. In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Gwynne were found:

Gwynne Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Gwynne, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1854
  • William A Gwynne, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1859 [6]

Australia Gwynne migration to Australia +

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

Gwynne Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Edward Castres Gwynne, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lord Goderich" in 1838 [7]
  • Robert Gwynne a farm labourer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rapid" in 1838 [8]
  • Francis Gwynne, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rapid" in 1838 [8]
  • Annie Gwynne, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rapid" in 1838 [8]
  • John Gwynne, English convict from Shropshire, who was transported aboard the "Agincourt" on July 6, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Gwynne 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:

Gwynne Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Gwynne, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Mallowdale" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th March 1875 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gwynne (post 1700) +

  • Michael C. Gwynne (b. 1942), American film, television and radio actor
  • Alice Claypoole Gwynne Vanderbilt (1845-1934), American wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II
  • Anne Gwynne (1918-2003), born Marguerite Gwynne Trice, an American film actress of the 1940s, known as one of the first scream queens because of her numerous appearances in horror films, one of the most popular pin-up girls of World War II
  • John Williams Gwynne (1889-1972), American Republican U.S. Representative from Iowa's 3rd congressional district, Federal Trade Commission member and chairman during the Eisenhower Administration
  • Jack Gwynne (1895-1969), American illusionist, actor and creator of magic effects
  • Anne Gwynne (1918-2003), American actress, known for her roles in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940), Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) and House of Frankenstein (1944)
  • Frederick Hubbard "Fred" Gwynne (1926-1993), American actor, best known for his starring roles in Car 54, Where Are You? (1961) and The Munsters (1964)
  • Thomas Emlyn Gwynne (1898-1962), Welsh rugby union and professional rugby league footballer, Member of the Wales National Team in 1928
  • Llewellyn Henry Gwynne CMG, CBE (1863-1957), Welsh Anglican Bishop, 1st Anglican Bishop of Egypt and Sudan (1920-1946)
  • Haydn Gwynne (1957-2023), English actress, nominated for a 1992 BAFTA TV Award for Drop the Dead Donkey (1990–1991)
  • ... (Another 14 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMAS Sydney II

The Gwynne 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: Vim vi repellere licet
Motto Translation: It is lawful to repel force by force.

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. 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)
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LORD GODERICH 1838. Retrieved from
  8. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAPID 1838. Retrieved from
  9. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Agincourt voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1844 with 226 passengers. Retrieved from
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  11. HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from on Facebook