Williams Surname Genealogy

Williams is a patronymic (son of) name from William, common
both England and Wales. Because of William the Conqueror, William
was the
most used personal name in England until it was superseded by John in
the 13th

Williams Resources on

England. Thomas Williames was
recorded in the 1307 Staffordshire rolls.
The Williams name was mainly to be found in western counties in
succeeding centuries.

A Williams family has held Herringstone House near Winterborne in Dorset
continuously since 1513.
Robert Williams of this family, a banker in London, acquired the
estate nearby in 1797; while a branch of the family moved to Trevers in
Cornwall. In 1901 Edward Williams, JP
for Dorset, and his wife lived at Herringstone with a lady’s maid, two
housemaids, a kitchen maid, butler, footman, and hall boy

the Williams family of Burncoose and Caerhays – through their ownership
mines and smelting works – was a major force in the Cornish industrial
revolution of the 18th and early 19th century. The first of this
line was
John Williams who purchased the Burncoose estate in 1715.
Charles Williams is the current owner of
Caerhays castle, a mock-medieval castle on the Cornish coast acquired
by the
family in 1854.

Wales. Williams emerged in different places as a
Welsh surname in the 16th century. Oliver Cromwell in fact might
have been a
Williams if his Welsh great grandfather, Richard Williams from
Glamorgan, had
not changed his name to Cromwell at the instructions of Henry VIII.

Other early
Williams were:

  • the Williams family of Vaynol near Bangor in north Wales. Wyn ap William (Thomas Williams) took
    ownership of the estate in 1572. John
    Williams, the
    Archbishop of York in 1641, held Vaynol for a while.
    But it passed out of family hands when Sir
    William Williams died without issue in 1696.
  • the Williams family of Aberpergwm
    in the Neath valley, beginning with Jenkin William (a descendant of
    William ap Hopkin of
    Blaen Baglan) who first settled there around the year 1500. This
    family later owned coal mines in the Neath
    valley and St. Donat’s castle. But after World War One both coal
    mines and castle were sold.
  • the
    Williams of Llangibby castle in Monmouthshire. This
    line boasted an old Welsh lineage. Roger Williams of Usk, the
    first to adopt
    the Williams
    surname, acquired Llangibby in 1554. These Williams
    constructed a new
    house there in the 17th century which continued in use until 1951.
  • while Glasbury in Breconshire boasted
    three notable Williams during the course of the 17th century.

Thomas Williams
developed the Parys and Mona copper mines in Anglesey in the late 18th
century. When he died in 1802 he was said
to have been the
richest man in Wales.

. Williams in Ireland would probably
have come originally from either Wales or England.

One such family of Welsh
origin settled in county Monaghan in the 1640’s. Charles
Williams, from
Coleraine in county Derry, was a 19th century war correspondent who
founded the
Press Club. A Williams family has been running the Tullamore
distillery in county Offaly since the early 1900’s.

at the Massachusetts colony in 1631. At odds with the Puritan
there, he fled the colony and purchased land at a place he called
Providence. He is considered the founder
of Rhode Island and the founder of religious toleration.

Matthew Williams from Wales (said to have been a
kinsman of Oliver Cromwell) had arrived in Massachusetts some years
earlier. He was one of the early
settlers of Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1644.
Later Williams of this family moved to Essex and Orange
counties, New

Robert Williams from Norfolk arrived in 1638 and settled in Sudbury,

  • one line via his son Isaac led to Ephraim Williams, the
    of Williams College in NW Massachusetts.
  • another line via his son Samuel led to the
    Rev. John Williams, the first pastor at Deerfield.
    In 1704 he was captured there by Mohawk
    Indians and taken to Canada in an incident that became known as the
    Deerfield massacre. During that time his
    daughter Eunice was
    adopted by a Mohawk family. Her grandson
    Thomas was a tribal chief at the time of the Revolutionary War. He lived onto 1848.

African Americans. Williams is the most common
surname amongst
African Americans. In fact
almost half of the Williams in America are
African American. The Williams name
appeared in many places before Emancipation:

  • Molly
    Williams, a black slave in New York, was
    recorded as the first female firefighter in America in 1818.
  • Peter
    Williams was a black minister in
    Harlem, New York in the 1830’s who spoke out against
    slavery from the pulpit and advocated emigration.
  • James
    Williams from Alabama,
    a driver on a cotton plantation, provided in 1838 the first slave
    published by the American Anti-Slavery Society.
  • while
    Cathay Williams from
    Missouri, legally a slave, was enlisted into the Union army during the
    War. She is the only documented woman
    who fought in the war as a man. Sadly
    she was denied a military pension when she needed it later in her life

Canada. John
Tucker Williams
of the Cornish Williams family came to Canada with
the Royal Navy in 1812 and stayed. His son Arthur, born at Port
Hope in
Ontario, died west in 1885 after military skirmishes along the
river; his grandson Victor was a Canadian general during the First
World War

Australia and New
Zealand. Henry
and William Williams
early Christian missionaries, arriving in New Zealand with their wives
in the
1820’s. Henry
instrumental in the negotiations with the Maoris over the Treaty of
Waitangi. William translated the Bible and
the prayer
book into Maori. John Williams,
unrelated, was another Christian missionary, this time from a
background. He came to Tasmania in 1817
and later established Congregational churches in Sydney and Brisbane.

There were
Cornish Williams from the Redruth area who emigrated to Australia in
the 1840’s
after the downturn in Cornish tin mining.
Many headed for the copper mines of South Australia like Kapunda. Others went to Victoria and Queensland. John
came in 1833 and settled with his family in the Hunter
valley of

Williams Miscellany

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

Williams Names

was the founder of the state of Rhode Island.
Edward Williams was Chief Druid
and bard of Wales in the 18th century.
Ralph Vaughan Williams was an
English composer.
Hank Williams was an American
country singer who has achieved almost cult status.  Andy Williams is a well-known
American singer.
Eric Williams was the first Prime
Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, serving from 1956 to 1981.
Robin Williams is an American
movie actor and comic.
Vanessa and Serena Williams, sisters, are
American tenni
s champions.

Select Williams Today
  • 411,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 523,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 145,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Williams is the #3 ranked surname in America and the #4 ranked in the UK.



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