Show ContentsLlewelyn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Llewelyn surname is derived from the Welsh personal name Llewellyn, which was also spelled Llywelin. This name is often explained as meaning lion-like, but is in fact probably derived from the Welsh word "llyw," which means leader. The Welsh double l was a constant source of trouble to English speakers, and was often translated "f." "A very ancient Welsh personal name, borne by many princes and magnates of Celtic origin." [1]

Early Origins of the Llewelyn family

The surname Llewelyn was first found in Pembrokeshire (Welsh: Sir Benfro), a county in south-west Wales, anciently part of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth. The most famous and oldest reference of the name was Dafydd ap Llywelyn (c.1212-1246), Prince of Gwynedd from 1240 to 1246, the first ruler to claim the title Prince of Wales. His father was Llywelyn the Great (Welsh: Llywelyn Fawr) (c. 1172-1240), Prince of Gwynedd in north Wales who eventually became ruler over most of Wales. "Davydd ab Llewelyn died at Aber, about 1246, and was buried in the abbey of Conway." [2]

Over in Aberedow, South Wales "Llewelyn's Cave, is said to have been occasionally used as an asylum by that brave, but unfortunate, prince, Llewelyn ab Grufydd, the last royal defender of Welsh liberty and independence, against the overpowering army of Edward I." [2]

Early History of the Llewelyn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Llewelyn research. Another 127 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1380, 1415 and 1500 are included under the topic Early Llewelyn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Llewelyn 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 Llewelyn name over the years has been spelled Flewelling, Flewellen, Llewellen, Llewillan, Llewellyn, Alewellyin, Flewellyn, Flywillan, Fleuellan, Llewallin, Llewallyn, Flewellan, Flewellin, Llewellan, Lewellin, Lewellen, Lewillan, Lewellyn, Lywellen, Lywellin, Lewallin and many more.

Early Notables of the Llewelyn family

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was

  • Sir Dafydd ap Llewelyn ap Hywel (c. 1380-1415), better known as Dafydd Gam or Davy Gam, a Welsh medieval nobleman, a prominent opponent of Owain Glyndwr...

United States Llewelyn migration to the United States +

Many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in the 19th and 20th centuries, searching for land, work, and freedom. Like the many other immigrants from the British Isles, they made a significant contribution to the development of Canada and the United States. The Welsh and their descendents added a rich cultural tradition to the newly developed towns, cities, and villages. An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Llewelyn:

Llewelyn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Llewelyn, aged 52, Welsh settler who arrived in New York aboard the ship "Cynosure" in 1863
  • Thomas Llewelyn, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1869 [3]
  • William Llewelyn, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [3]
  • James Llewelyn, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Llewelyn (post 1700) +

  • Desmond Wilikinson Llewelyn (1913-1999), Welsh actor who played Q in the James Bond series of films, known for GoldenEye (1995), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Thunderball (1965)
  • John Dillwyn Llewelyn (1810-1882), Welsh botanist and photographer
  • Sir Robert Baxter Llewelyn KCMG (1845-1919), British colonial administrator, Governor of Grenada (1900-1906), Administrator of the Colony of the Gambia (1891-1900), Commissioner of Saint Lucia in 1891
  • Evan John Llewelyn (1875-1967), Australian politician, Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Toowoomba (1925-1929)
  • Richard Llewelyn Wathen (b. 1971), British painter
  • Llewelyn Mark Summers (1947-2019), New Zealand sculptor based in Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Llewelyn Lewellin (1798-1878), Welsh cleric and academic, the first principal of St David's College, Lampeter (1827-1879)
  • Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939), British writer
  • Llewelyn R. Michaud, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Maine, 1960

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Institute of Historical Research, 1849, Print.
  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) on Facebook