Edwards Surname Genealogy


Edwards is a patronymic name meaning
“son of
Edward.” Eadweard was
Saxon name. It appeared in the Domesday book as Eaaduardus and Eduard. The name was in
widespread use before the Norman invasion, because of two kings, Edward
the Martyr and Edward the Confessor.

Edwards Resources on

Wales. There were old
Welsh families in Denbighshire in north Wales who later assumed the
Edwards name. These included the Edwards of Stansty near Wrexham
which lasted
until the 18th century and the Edwards of Chirkland which has lasted
much longer.
As Edwardes they migrated to Pembrokeshire in the 18th
century, securing by marriage in 1762 the Kensington estates in London
and later a peerage.

Also from Denbighshire, said
to be descended from Einon Efell (the Lord of Cynlleath in the
12th century),

was Robert Edwards of Lledrode. He was
son of Edward ap Thomas ap Llewellyn and, in the late 1500’s, was among
the first in Wales to assume Edwards
as a surname. His son John Edwards acquired the
Strange estate in Shropshire across the English border.

Edwards were also in south Wales.
There were Edwards at
Edwards Hall near Cardiff in Glamorgan from the 1560’s to the early
William Edwards, born in
Glamorgan in 1719, was a Welsh Methodist minister who was also a bridge
engineer, responsible for the building of the Old Bridge at Pontypridd. An Edwards family has been at Talgarth in
Breconshire since 1708.

By the time of the 1891 census there were more
Edwards in south Wales than in north Wales and many more in England.

Edwards started out as a surname in England possibly as
early as the
13th century. It was to be found mainly
in the west country, notably in Somerset and Cornwall.

  • Richard
    , the musical composer and playwright, was born in
    Somerset in 1523. Also of Somerset was John
    Edwards who at various times was bailiff,
    mayor, and MP for Bridgwater in the 1560’s.
  • one Edwards family in Cornwall began with the
    birth of Henry Edwards in Lelant in 1513. Richard
    Edwards was recorded as marrying Grace Richards in
    Breage in

Edwards in Shropshire may have
represented some spillover from Wales.
In addition to the Edwards at Ness Strange, another Welsh family
Montgomeryshire was to be found at Lydham in Shropshire by the 1550’s. Hugh Edwards, a merchant, founded Shrewsbury
School in 1551. Humphrey Edwards from
Shrewsbury was one of the regicides of Charles I in 1648;
while Edward Edwards, the 18th century landscape painter, was born into
artisan family in Shrewsbury.

America. The first Edwards in
America was probably
Alexander Edwards who had come to New England from Wales around 1630. He and his wife Sarah were among the early
settlers of Northampton, Massachusetts. There followed six successive Samuel Edwards.

Richard Edwards, a merchant in Hartford,
married Elizabeth Tuttle (whom he later divorced) in 1668 and it was
from this
“union of the sane and insane” came:

  • the
    Rev. Timothy Edwards, a Congregational minister.
  • his
    son Jonathan, one of the foremost
    theologians of his day, a leader of the revivalist “First Great
  • his
    grandson Pierpont a
    delegate at the Continental Congress in 1788 who, perhaps inheriting
    the Tuttle
    genes, was also “profligate, vicious, and licentious.”
  • and
    his great grandson Henry who was briefly
    Governor of Connecticut in 1833. Another line via his
    produced Aaron Burr who famously duelled with Alexander Hamilton.

Nathaniel Edwards, believed to have
been born at Edwards Hall in Cardiff, came to America in the early
first to Virginia and then as a merchant to Maryland.
He lived to witness the Revolutionary War
when, despite his age, he was active in supporting the British troops
in New
York. William
, also from Wales, came to New York in the 1770’s.

However, the most newsworthy Edwards in America in those colonial times
another Welshman – Robert Edwards, a pirate of uncertain origins. Some say that he was born in Llanmynech on
the border with Shropshire and came to New York in the 1690’s. It does appear that he was granted a claim to
real estate in Manhattan in return for the services that he had
rendered in
disrupting Spanish sea lines.

In 1877,
when this valuable estate in downtown Manhattan would have reverted to
his heirs,
many so-called descendants emerged to stake a claim.
An “Association of Edwards’ Heirs” is still
around. More than 5,000 people have said
that they are descended from this Edwards.

Two Edwards brothers – Nicholas and Henry from
Monmouthshire – arrived in Barbados sometime in the 1720’s. Henry stayed there; Nicholas moved onto
Antigua. Later Edwards in Antigua owned
plantations at
Comfort and Coconut Hall

George Edwards Brown, an
English sailor from
London, was the founder and patriarch of the Edwards family in Chile. Family tradition has it that while his ship
was at port in Chile in 1804 he fell in love with a Chilean lady and
his ship. He prospered in Chile and,
because of his support for its independence, was granted citizenship
there in

His Edwards descendants have played and
still play a significant role in Chilean politics, especially as owners
of its
most influential newspaper chain, El

New Zealand.
There were two early John Edwards in New

  • the first John Edwards from
    Essex arrived in 1835 and was apparently a storekeeper in Waikato on
    North Island. His two wives were Maori. There is a watercolor painting of him, done
    in 1850, that is in the Auckland Art Gallery.
  • the second John Edwards from
    Yorkshire, known as Totara Jack, arrived in
    Nelson on the Olympus in 1842. He
    moved his family to Taita after the Wairau
    massacre in 1849.

Edwards Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Edwards Names

Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan
preacher and revivialist in 18th century colonial America.
George Edwards, an 18th century
naturalist, is known as the father of English ornithology.
George Edwards was the first of
the Edwards line in Chile.
holds the world record for the triple jump.

Select Edwards Today

  • 148,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Cardiff)
  • 120,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 84,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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