Powless History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Welsh surname Powless comes from the personal name Hoel or Howell, which were both derived from the Old Welsh name Houel. The surname Powless features the distinctive Welsh patronymic prefix "ap-". The original form of the name was ap-Hoel or ap-Howell, but the prefixes have been assimilated into the surname over the course of time.

Early Origins of the Powless family

The surname Powless 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), where the name "are descended from Philip ap Howell, whose pedigree is traced to Edwin ap Grono, Lord of Tegaingl, founder of the XIII noble tribe of North Wales and Powys." [1] However other records claim the name came from the Welsh King Hywel Dda"the Good" ap Cadell (c.880- c.950), son of Cadell ap Rhodri, in turn a son of Rhodri the Great.

Early History of the Powless family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Powless research. Another 201 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1600, 1798, 1673, 1750, 1795, 1608, 1660, 1624, 1680, 1660, 1637, 1630, 1692, 1689, 1628, 1678, 1660, 1678, 1632, 1696, 1688, 1803, 1834, 1641, 1721 and 1653 are included under the topic Early Powless History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Powless 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 Powless name over the years has been spelled Powell, Powel and others.

Early Notables of the Powless family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Thomas Powell (c.1608-1660), a Welsh cleric and writer from Cantref, Breconshire; Sir William Powell, 1st Baronet (c. 1624-1680), born William Hinson, an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1660; William Powell (d. 1637), was an esquire of Castle Madoc; Henry Powle (1630-1692), an English lawyer and politician, Speaker of the House of Commons in 1689; Sir Richard Powle (1628-1678), an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1678; Sir John Powell (c. 1632-1696), a Welsh judge...
Another 96 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Powless Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Powless family to Ireland

Some of the Powless family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Powless family

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 Powless: Edward Powell, who came to Virginia in 1587; John Powell arrived in Virginia in 1607; Thomas, who came to Virginia in 1618; Gody Powell on record in Virginia in 1623.


Contemporary Notables of the name Powless (post 1700) +

  • John D. Powless (1932-2021), American basketball and tennis coach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Sally Powless, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 2008 [2]
  • Powless William Lanier (b. 1885), American Democratic Party politician, Member of Tennessee State House of Representatives, 1911-12; Candidate for U.S. Senator from North Dakota, 1932; U.S. Attorney for North Dakota, 1933-54 [3]


The Powless 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: Edrych i fynw
Motto Translation: Looking Up.


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 3) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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