Rhys History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Welsh name Rhys 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 Rhys family

The surname Rhys 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 Rhys family

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

Rhys Spelling Variations

Welsh surnames are relatively few in number, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. There are many factors that explain the preponderance of Welsh variants, but the earliest is found during the Middle Ages when Welsh surnames came into use. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, which often resulted in a single person's name being inconsistently recorded over his lifetime. The transliteration of Welsh names into English also accounts for many of the spelling variations: the unique Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh had many sounds the English language was incapable of accurately reproducing. It was also common for members of a same surname to change their names slightly, in order to signify a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations. For all of these reasons, the many spelling variations of particular Welsh names are very important. The surname Rhys has occasionally been spelled Rees, Reece, Rhys, Ap Rhys and others.

Early Notables of the Rhys 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 Rhys Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Rhys migration to the United States +

The Welsh migration to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries contributed greatly to its rapid development. These migrants were in search of land, work, and freedom. Those Welsh families that survived the long ocean journey were critical to the development of new industries and factories, and to the quick settlement of land. They also added to an ever-growing rich cultural heritage. A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Rhys:

Rhys Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Rhys, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682 [4]
Rhys Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • David E Rhys, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1871 [4]
  • Joseph B Rhys, who arrived in Colorado in 1887 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Rhys (post 1700) +

  • Morgan John Rhys (1760-1804), Welsh Baptist minister
  • Matthew Rhys (b. 1974), born Matthew Rhys Evans, Welsh actor, best known as Kevin Walker in the U.S. ABC family drama Brothers & Sisters
  • Gruffydd Maredudd Bowen Rhys (b. 1970), Welsh vocalist and guitarist
  • Sir John Rhys (1840-1915), Welsh philologist, fellow of the British Academy, the first Professor of Celtic at Oxford University
  • Ernest Percival Rhys (1859-1946), Welsh editor
  • Phillip Rhys (b. 1974), English Screen Actors Guild Award nominated actor
  • John Llewellyn Rhys (d. 1940), British bomber pilot killed in action, memorialized by John Llewellyn Rhys prize
  • Jean Rhys CBE (1890-1979), born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, British novelist, best known for her novel Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
  • Captain Reginald Rhys Soar DSC (1893-1971), British flying ace during World War I credited with 12 official aerial victories won while serving in the Dardanelles and along the English Channel
  • Osi Rhys Osmond (d. 2015), Welsh painter and an occasional television and radio presenter

The Rhys 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)

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