Show ContentsRace History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Welsh name Race go back to those ancient Celts known as the Britons that once occupied the hills and Moors of Wales. This old Welsh surname is from the Welsh personal name Rhys, which also took the forms Rice and Rees. [1] [2] This name was originally derived from the Old Welsh forename Ris, which means ardour. [2]

Early Origins of the Race family

The surname Race was first found in Carmarthenshire (Welsh: Sir Gaerfyrddin), located in Southwest Wales, one of thirteen historic counties and presently one of the principal area in Wales. Sir Elidir Dhu who flourished temp. Richard I., was the direct descendant of the family of Rees of Killymaenllwyd, county Carmarthen. [3]

The name Rees appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 in Cheshire [4] and later as a forename, Resus filius Griffini was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Devon in 1178. Griffinus filius Res, or Ris was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Shropshire and Gloucestershire in 1198. In Lincolnshire, William Res was found in the Curia Regis Rolls for 1203 and later, John Rees was listed in the Feet of Fines for Suffolk in 1288. Later again, Walter Rys was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1327. [5]

"In 1115, Grufydd ab Rhys, Prince of South Wales, took sanctuary in the church of Aberdaron, from the treachery of Grufydd ab Cynan, sovereign of North Wales, who intended to deliver him into the hands of the English monarch, Henry I. The young prince escaped with his partisans by night, and set forward on his journey to the deep forest of Strath Towy, in South Wales, where, having collected the adherents of his family, he commenced hostilities against the Norman and Flemish settlers. " [6]

Later Cheshire, England became a stronghold for the family as the Wills at Chester listed: Thomas ap-Reese, 1606; Thomas Rees, of Tybroughton, 1647; and Giles Reece, coinmaker, of Chester. [1]

Early History of the Race family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Race research. Another 162 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1615, 1601, 1607, 1606, 1647, 1541, 1624 and 1616 are included under the topic Early Race History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Race 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 Race have included Rees, Reece, Rhys, Ap Rhys and others.

Early Notables of the Race family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Edmund Prys (c. 1541-1624), Welsh translator of the psalms into Welsh verse, son of Sion (John) ap Rhys of Tyddyn Du in the parish of Maen Twrog, Merionethshire. Prys was a skilful composer in the strict Welsh metres, and took an active part in the bardic life of his time. [7] Lewys Dwnn or more properly Lewys ap Rhys ap Owain (d. 1616?), was "Deputy-Herald for Wales, derived his accepted surname from...
Another 81 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Race Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Race Ranking

In the United States, the name Race is the 4,921st most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [8]

United States Race migration to the United States +

North America in the 1800s and 1900s saw the arrival of many Welsh people hoping to share in the wealth of land, work, and freedom that they felt North America held. Those who made the journey often attained those expectations, but only through an enormous amount of hard work, perseverance, and often a bout of good luck. These immigrants helped contribute to the growth of industry, commerce, and culture of both Canada and the United States. Discovered in the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Race:

Race Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Leo Race, aged 18, who immigrated to the United States from Isle of Man, in 1892
  • Elizabeth Race, aged 45, who settled in America from Isle Of Man, in 1892
  • Ed. Race, aged 49, who landed in America from Wingate, in 1892
  • Ben. Race, aged 3, who immigrated to America from Wingate, in 1892
  • Adolf Race, aged 18, who settled in America from Isle Of Man, in 1892
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Race Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Robert Race, aged 51, who immigrated to the United States from Queenstown, in 1902
  • William Schofield Race, aged 22, who settled in America from London, England, in 1904
  • Louisa Race, aged 48, who immigrated to the United States from Newcastle, England, in 1906
  • May Race, aged 19, who immigrated to America from Eccles, England, in 1906
  • Robert Race, aged 55, who landed in America from Newcastle, England, in 1906
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Race migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Race Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Thomas H. Race, aged 59, who settled in Ontario, in 1905
  • Thomas H. Race, aged 59, who immigrated to Mitchell, Ont., Canada, in 1908
  • Mary Race, aged 30, who immigrated to Hamilton, Canada in 1919

New Zealand Race 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:

Race Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth J. Race, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rangitikei" in 1884

Contemporary Notables of the name Race (post 1700) +

  • Harley Race (1943-2019), American professional wrestler, inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
  • John Abner Race (1914-1983), American politician, member of the United States House of Representatives (1965 to 1967)
  • Janice Race, American former comic book editor for DC Comics
  • John Abner Race (1914-1983), American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly, 1958, 1970; U.S. Representative from Wisconsin 6th District, 1965-67; Defeated, 1962, 1966, 1968 [9]
  • Howard Everett Race (b. 1918), American Republican politician, Member of Wisconsin Republican State Central Committee, 1962 [9]
  • Henry Race, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Jersey, 1856 [9]
  • Harry Race, American Republican politician, Member of Alaska territorial House of Representatives 1st District, 1937-38 [9]
  • George A. Race, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Houston, Texas, 1889-93 [9]
  • Frederick H. Race, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Franklin; Elected 1930, 1932 [9]
  • Azel R. Race, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Franklin, 1901-02 [9]
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Race 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: Spes melioris aevi
Motto Translation: The hope of a better age.

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  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. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Institute of Historical Research, 1849, Print.
  7. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook