Rees History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Welsh name Rees 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. This name was originally derived from the Old Welsh forename Ris, which means ardour.

Early Origins of the Rees family

The surname Rees 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. [1]

"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. " [2]

Early History of the Rees family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rees research. Another 124 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1615, 1541, 1624 and 1616 are included under the topic Early Rees History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rees Spelling Variations

Although there are not an extremely large number Welsh surnames, there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations of those surnames. This variety of spellings began almost immediately after the acceptance of surnames within Welsh society. As time progressed, these old Brythonic names were eventually were recorded in English. This process was problematic in that many of the highly inflected sounds of the native language of Wales could not be properly captured in English. Some families, however, did decide to modify their own names to indicate a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even a patriotic affiliation. The name Rees has seen various spelling variations: Rees, Reece, Rhys, Ap Rhys and others.

Early Notables of the Rees 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. [3] 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 Rees Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Rees migration to the United States +

In the 1800s and 1900s, many Welsh families left for North America, in search of land, work, and freedom. Those who made the trip successfully helped contribute to the growth of industry, commerce, and the cultural heritage of both Canada and the United States. In the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Rees

Rees Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Rees, who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Andries Rees, who landed in New York in 1664 [4]
  • Gwen Rees, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1678-1679 [4]
  • Ellin Rees, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1678-1679 [4]
  • Ellis Rees, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1678-1679 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Rees Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hans Rees, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1754 [4]
  • Jacob Rees, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1760 [4]
  • Dietrick Rees, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1764 [4]
  • Catherina Rees, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1797 [4]
  • Johanes Rees, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1797 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Rees Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Elis Rees, who arrived in North America in 1832-1849 [4]
  • Conrad Rees, who landed in North America in 1832-1849 [4]
  • Johannes Rees, who landed in North America in 1832-1849 [4]
  • Johann Werner Rees, who landed in North America in 1832-1849 [4]
  • Jenkins Rees, aged 21, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1838 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Rees migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rees Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Capt. David Rees U.E. (b. 1738) born in Pennsylvania, USA who died before arriving inCanada c. 1780 married to Elizabeth Babb having 4 children [5]

Australia Rees migration to Australia +

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

Rees Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. David Rees, Welsh convict who was convicted in Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, Wales for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Thomas Rees, Welsh convict who was convicted in Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales for life, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 27th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Mr. William Rees, Welsh convict who was convicted in Glamorgan, Wales for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 27th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Mr. William Rees, Welsh convict who was convicted in Pembrokeshire, Wales for life, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 27th September 1834, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • Mr. Richard Rees, Welsh convict who was convicted in Brecknockshire, (Breconshire), Powys Wales for 10 years, transported aboard the "Barossa" on 27th August 1841, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Rees 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:

Rees Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Dr. George Rees, (b. 1810), aged 31, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [9]
  • Mrs. Rees, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [9]
  • Mr. J. Rees, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th December 1850 [10]
  • Mrs. Rees, British settler with 4 children travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th December 1850 [10]
  • Benjamin Rees, aged 31, a blacksmith, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Rees (post 1700) +

  • William L. Rees, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Colorado, 1932 [11]
  • Warren J. Rees (b. 1908), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Iowa, 1948; District Judge in Iowa 18th District, 1963-69; Justice of Iowa State Supreme Court, 1969-80 [11]
  • Thomas Mankell Rees (1925-2003), American Democrat politician, Member of California State Assembly 59th District, 1954-62; Member of California State Senate, 1962-65; U.S. Representative from California, 1965-77 [11]
  • Thomas P. Rees, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly, 1956, 1966 [11]
  • Thomas H. Rees, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Colorado, 1956 (alternate), 1960 [11]
  • T. J. Rees, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Florida, 1956 [11]
  • Samuel J. Rees, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Weirton, West Virginia, 1956-65 [11]
  • Rollin Raymond Rees (1865-1935), American Republican politician, Member of Kansas State House of Representatives, 1899-1902; District Judge in Kansas 30th District, 1903-10; U.S. Representative from Kansas 5th District, 1911-13 [11]
  • R. R. Rees, American politician, Mayor of Huntington Woods, Michigan, 1933-34 [11]
  • Paulita Rees, American politician, Candidate in primary for Mayor of Chicago Heights, Illinois, 2003 [11]
  • ... (Another 38 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Annie Rees (1899-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [12]
  • Captain Harding Rees (1892-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [12]
  • Captain Ruth Rees (1889-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [12]
  • Mrs. Ruth Rees (1863-1914), née Babington Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [12]
  • Mr. David Rees (1858-1914), "Commissioner" Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [12]
Hillcrest Coal Mine
HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. Robert John Rees (1916-1941), Australian Ordinary Seaman from Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [14]
HMS Cornwall
  • Hywel Glyndwr Rees, British Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [15]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Vernon J Rees (b. 1920), English Stoker 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Norwich, Norfolk, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [16]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. W R Rees, British Engine Room Artificer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [17]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. John Raymond Rees, British Boy 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [18]
  • Mr. William Rees, Welsh Writer from Swansea, Wales, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [18]
HMS Royal Oak
  • D. Rees, British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [19]


The Rees 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. ^ Lowe, 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. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barossa
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 27) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  12. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  13. ^ List Of Miners - Hillcrest Mine Disaster Data. (Retrieved 2014, June 24) . Retrieved from http://www.hillcrestminedisaster.com/data/index.php?title=List_Of_Miners
  14. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  15. ^ Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listcornwallcrew.html#A
  16. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  17. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  18. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  19. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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