Popular United States Surnames
Genealogy For Williams Surname

Brief History of Williams Surname : Family historians give credit to William the Conquerer for igniting the popularity of the personal name, "William". First as the Duke of Normandy, William the Conquerer invaded England and ascended to the throne as William the I King of England after the Norman conquest in 1066. William the I completely altered the politics and culture in England, as well as sparked the popularity of "William" as a personal name. Eventually, the English families adopted surnames, so it is not a suprise that derivations of the "son of William" were used. Four English kings used the name William and even today, the heir to the British throne is Prince William.

Benefiting from family connection to the English throne, many early Williams descendents served in public office and governed newly conquered lands. Eventually the name spread across all of the English speaking countries and finds its places as the 3rd popular surname in Great Britain and America. Historically, this name comes from greatness and the surname basically means, "a family of heroes".

Earliest European Record of the Williams Surname :
  • Robert Filius Willelmi - noted in the Doomsday Book of 1086
  • Richard William - name found in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1279
  • John Wylyam - name found in Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296

  • The Country Origins of the Williams Surname
    The Williams surname primarily originates from such countries as Wales, England, Scotland, and Germany. Throughout the ages, the Williams surname maintains its position as the third most popular surname in the United States and Great Britain. Primarily, the Williams surname is considered a Welsh name. You cannot really trace each William back to one man because many just cropped up and then used the patronymic naming conventions to adopt a family surname.
    Wales/England : Historians credit the Welsh people with adding the "s" to the end of the surname that in the Welsh culture denotes "the son of". Since Williams is the most popular variation of the name, it is safe to assume that most of the ancestors of the Williams surname came from Wales.

    Many of the prominent Williams family came from the historic county of Breconshire or Brecknockshire in Wales located near the English/Welsh border. Sir Henry Williams (1661) and Richard Williams (1679) are the first of a host of Williams family members from Breconshire who served on the English Parliament.

    The Welsh line of Williams families connect with the motto, Cywir in Gwlad meaning Righteous country or correct land. This is fitting due to the Welsh Williams role in the civic government of their lands.
    Northern Scotland : The Williams surname takes on the variation of McWilliams, that also means "son of Williams". The Scottish people are one of the only groups of people using William as part of their surname that did not add the "s" suffix.

    An excerpt from George F Black's excellent book Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning and History : Duncan Ban MacWilliam and William the Lion were both great grandsons of Malcolm III. Duncan was slain in the battle of Mam Garvia in Moray in 1187; his son Donald was slain in Moray in 1215, and his son Guthred was beheaded at Kincardine in 1211. indicates some of the early bearers of the MacWilliams surname.
    Germany : Genealogists credit the German language with produce the primary variations of the name, William. Some of the old German names are Willihelm and Willelm. The roots of the German people are traced back to Prussia. The German Williams clans identify with a shield having a four roses displayed on a silver background. The German Williams family crest is a single rose.

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