Bevan Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Bevan Surname Meaning

Bevan is a name of Welsh origin, derived from ap Evan meaning “son of Evan” where Evan is the Welsh John. The surname in the Welsh patronymic style dates back to the late 13th century.  Howel ap Evan was recorded around 1300.

Bevan Surname Resources on The Internet

Bevan Surname Ancestry

  • from South Wales and Western England
  • to America and New Zealand

Wales.  The Bevan surname was slow to emerge from the haze of the Welsh patronymic system, but probably did so first in Carmarthenshire in the late 16th century.

Carmarthenshire.  Griffith Bevan was mayor of Carmarthen in 1575 and these Bevans established themselves at Penycoed, a large country house on the banks of the Dewi Fawr.  They remained there until the latter half of the 18th century.   Later came the Bevans of Laugharne, starting with Zachary Bevan who was the High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1703.  Bridget Bevan, known as Madam Bevan for her philanthropy, died in Laugharne in 1779.

Glamorgan.  A more ancient Bevan family in terms of Welsh lineage was at Treverigg in the parish of Llantrisant near Cardiff in Glamorgan.  John ap Evan was born there in 1585.  His son was Evan ap John but his grandsons, John and Charles who emigrated to America, adopted the Bevan name.

The Bevan name in and around Swansea started at Rhossili on the Gower Peninsula around the year 1620. Jenkin ap Evan anglicized his name to Jenkin Bevan at this time.  Bevans remained on the Gower Peninsula.

One branch moved to Swansea and Sylvanus Bevan there became an early convert to Quakerism.  Although Sylvanus suffered persecution at times for his beliefs, he was by the early 1700’s part of Swansea’s growing and prospering Quaker community.  In 1708 his son Sylvanus left to seek his fortune in London.  The family story in Wales and England was covered in Audrey Gamble’s 1924 book The History of the Bevan Family.

Coal mining came to dominate South Wales by the latter part of the 19th century.  The 1881 census showed that the number one occupation for Bevans was coal mining.  Some lives there ended in tragedy.  Thomas Bevan was one of the ten men who died in 1884 at the Garnant mine near Swansea when the rope holding the cage broke.

One Bevan became famous.  Aneurin Bevan was born in Tredegar and was down the pits by the age of 13.  He became a trade union activist and that started his ascent in the Labor party.

EnglandThe 1881 census showed a significant overspill of Bevans into England, either into neighboring Gloucestershire or further afield to Lancashire or London.  One Bevan family in Gloucestershire has been traced back to the birth of James Bevan in Thornbury in 1756.  Bevin and Bevins, variations of Bevan, are English variations:

  • Ernest Bevin, Foreign Minister in the Attlee Government, was born in Somerset. 
  • Tony Bevins the journalist, after whom the Bevins Prize was named, was born in Liverpool.

Sylvanus Bevan came to London from Swansea in 1708 and, as a pharmacist, established the base for the later family fortunes in England.  These Bevans forged alliances through their Quaker heritage with the Barclays and the Gurneys and this brought them into banking and into the life of an English country gentleman.

Their London home from 1833 to 1908 was at Trent Park in Enfield. One branch was to be found on the south coast at Brighton.  These Bevans later included the artist Robert P. Bevan and his son Bobby Bevan, a prominent advertising executive and member of London’s literary set in the 1930’s.

However, the Bevan family has remained a part of Barclays Bank and an integral one at that – from Silvanus Bevan who joined the original Barclay Bank in 1767 to Timothy Bevan the Chairman from 1981 to 1987.

America.  John Bevan of Treverigg had become interested in founding a colony of Welsh Quakers in Pennsylvania.  As an agent for a number of them he purchased land from William Penn in Haverford township in Chester county and in Merion near Philadelphia. He himself arrived in Pennsylvania in 1683 with his brother Charles and settled in the Merion tract. 

Benjamin Bevan, father and son, were to be found in Haverford during the 18th century. 

New Zealand.  Thomas and Mary Bevan left their home in Shropshire in 1840 for the uncertainties of life in New Zealand (Thomas survived the crossing but Mary died at sea).  Thomas, a ropemaker by trade, eventually settled in the Otaki district near Wellington.  

Theodore Bevan, from London but of Welsh Quaker roots, arrived in New Zealand in 1881.  He spent the next ten years of his life travelling and exploring in New Guinea.

Bevan Surname Miscellany

The Bevans of Penycoed.  The Bevan family had been living at Penycoed, an estate to the north of St.Clears, since 1575 or thereabouts.  They were considerable landowners and some four generations of Bevans were appointed High Sheriffs of Carmarthenshire.  As the senior officers of the Crown they had responsibility for law and order and for the good management of the county.

Thomas Bevan was born in 1696 and became High Sheriff himself in 1735.  He married Bryanna Lloyd, daughter of one of the well-established South Wales families, and they proceeded to have six children – William in 1730, Margareta Maria in 1732, Amy in 1733 and three other girls. William was, therefore, the son and heir and Margareta Maria could be said to be the senior daughter.  Sometime in the 1750’s or 60’s Thomas built himself a Palladian mansion to replace the old family manor house.

Amy married and gave birth to a little girl, Anne, in 1775.  Amy then died and the baby was taken into the Bevan household.  If that was the end of the story one would have assumed the following – that Amy had been indiscreet with someone of lower class and there had followed a shotgun wedding and that Amy had died after childbirth.

We now come to a remarkable sequence of events. Thomas died intestate in 1783. This was a remarkable situation where a man disposing of a considerable estate was concerned.  Margareta Maria and not her brother William was appointed to administer the estate.   William did not inherit and died in 1806 intestate. The estate then appears to have been inherited by Anne – presumably at the wish of her grandfather and by arrangement of his administrator, her aunt, Margareta Maria!

Why did William not inherit and the estate eventually pass to Anne?  There have been a number of explanations put forward, but no one really knows.  In 1793 Anne married a local landowner Walter Williams and it was curious that their eldest son should be called William Bevan Williams.

Early Bevans in the Gower Peninsula and in Llangyfelach.  The following are some 17th century parish records of Bevans on the Gower Peninsula.

Date Parish Event
1672 Rhossili Marriage of Franc Beavan
1685 Rhossili Burial of John Bevan
1685 Llanhridian Baptism of Robert Bevan
1686 Rhossili Marriage of Graficus Bevan and
Margaret Jones
1686 Llanhridian Baptism of Maria, daughter of
Howell Bevan
1687 Rhossili Baptism of Thomas, son of Fran
1694 Bishopston Baptism of Joan, daughter of
Jenkin Bevan
1695 Bishopston Burial of Llewelyn Bevan of
Lydard Vach
1699 Bishopston Burial of John Griffith Bevan

The Bevan name was to be found in early 18th century parish records at Oystermouth(Mumbles) and Llangyfelach, both in the vicinity of Swansea.

William Bevan, born in Llangyfelach in 1696, was the forebear of a Bevan family which was the subject of Elfed Bevan’s 1992 study.  Rees Bevan was born in Llangyfelach in 1706 and his son was the Rev. Hopkin Bevan, the prominent Methodist minister.

Later Bevans from the Gower Peninsula.  The Bevan family roots in Gower stretch back over 350 years to Jenkin ap Evan, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Rev. Peter After in the parish church of St. Mary’s at Rhossili around.1620.  Jenkin anglicized his Welsh surname, creating the new one of Bevan.

A 19th century descendant, Silvanus Bevan, was a farmer and Methodist lay preacher,  He kept close to home, marrying his cousin Ann and raising his large family on his farm, Bay View Farm at Overton overlooking the Gower coastline.

George, born in 1861 and the third of his eleven children, left home in 1876 to begin an ironmongery apprenticeship at his Uncle William’s shop in Llandudno. He planned to return, but didn’t.  He ended up opening a shop in the developing seaside resort of Colwyn Bay.  He was elected to the Local Board in 1890 and thus began a political career at Colwyn Bay that was to last forty two years – until his sudden death in 1935.

His granddaughter Dr. Mary Bevan, born in Colwyn Bay, saved an archive of his family letters and books.

Reader Feedback – The Bevans in Barclays Bank.  The Bevans I know were Huguenots who fled from a small village just north of Dijon in France and settled on the Gower Peninsular, taking the name ab Evan.

There were two old Silvanus Bevans that I know.  One went to Norwich and the family still has a cup he won for his sheep.  But the other is the famous one who went to the city of London and eventually joined up with Barclay and Tritton to build the banking family.

One of those three families was chairman of the bank at all times up to Tuke in the 1980’s.  The last Bevan chairman was Timothy Bevan who died in early 2016.  He was Tuke’s immediate predecessor and had previously served as an officer in the Welsh Guards.

Tim’s father had spent much of his youth at the house in France, arriving in England to go to Eton.  A POW in World War One, became fluent in German, learned some Russian, Spanish and even a few words of Japanese. In World War Two he spent time in the Diplomatic Service, was in SOE, and ended the was commanding an MGB.  In civilian life he was a partner in a stock-broking company.

David Brown (

Reader Feedback – The Bevans in Barclays Bank.  My lineage takes me back as a direct descendant to the Bevan family connected to Barclays Bank.  I’m so very proud of my family name.  I’ve cross-referenced your information that is very accurate to all my fellow extended family members present.

Nathan Bevan (

The Sad Story of Llewelyn Bevan.  Llewelyn Bevan was born about 1823, probably at the Nant-y-gasegisaf farm in Cwmgors.  Following the tradition of the day, as the eldest son he was named for his paternal grandfather, Llewelyn Bevan.  He was first recorded in the 1841 census.

Llewelyn’s mother Ann died in 1845.  It is not known at what point he left home, but he was not enumerated at Nant-y-gasegisaf with his family in 1851.  He was recorded then as a visitor in the home of another Llewelyn Bevan, a farmer and possibly a relation.  In the next census of 1861 he was enumerated in the household of his maternal uncle, John Howell

The next entry finds him at the asylum at Bridgend. The asylum opened in November 1864 and he was the third patient to be admitted, having been transferred from the Vernon House Asylum at Briton Ferry where he had been for almost three years.  He had apparently been judged to be “insanefor seven years prior to his admission at Vernon House and had been “farmed out” to relatives.

In his admittance record, Llewelyn was described as having: “a listless and apathetic manner and a confused and vacant look.  He answers questions with difficulty or not at all.”  As the years passed the content of the reviews became briefer.  After an entry on July 20 1903, nothing further was written until October 12 when it was recorded:

“He has been failing for some time, refusing his food and gradually becoming weaker. He slowly sank and at 8.40 p.m. today he died.”

Llewelyn was in his 80th year and had spent 41 years of his life in the care of asylums.

Bevans in the 1881 Census.  

County Number Percent
Glamorgan    2,022    29
Monmouth     685    10
Carmarthen     308     4
Brecon     289     4
Gloucestershire     354     5
Lancashire     355     5
London     545     8
Elsewhere    2,382    35
Total    6,940   100

The main numbers were in Swansea, Marthyr Tydil, and Ystradyfodwg.

John Bevan in Haverford, Pennsylvania.  The first Welsh settlers arrived in Haverford township, Pennsylvania in 1682. Haverford was unique in that it was a wilderness whereas many other settlements already had previous residents.

Some of these families were the founders of Old Haverford Meeting, and, as was the custom with the early Quakers, until a Meeting House could be built the homes of the members was where the Monthly Meetings were held.  Meetings were held at the home of John Bevan whose land was across the road from where Old Haverford Meeting now stands.  John Bevan’s house still stands.  The rooms are timbered in heavy oak and the floors paved with stone, as was usual in Wales at that time.

Bevan’s situation was unusual in that he and his wife only came to Pennsylvania temporarily, because they felt it would be a good place to raise their children. In 1704, when their children were grown-up and comfortably settled there, they returned to Wales. Bevan ironically faced persecution and imprisonment for his faith back in Wales.

Bevan Names

  • Sylvanus Bevan came to London in 1708 and established the base for the subsequent family fortunes as a pharmacist (his company was the starting point for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline). 
  • Aneurin (Nye) Bevan, the son of a Welsh coal miner, spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service in the post-war Attlee government.
  • Ernest Bevin, English-born, was a trade union leader who served as Minister of Labor during World War Two and Foreign Secretary afterwards.

Bevan Numbers Today

  • 16,000 in the UK (most numerous in Glamorgan)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Bevan and Like Surnames  

Hereditary surnames in Wales were a post-16th century development.   Prior to that time the prototype for the Welsh name was the patronymic, such as “Madog ap Jevan ap Jerwerth” (Madoc, son of Evan, son of Yorwerth).  The system worked well in what was still mainly an oral culture.

However, English rule decreed English-style surnames and the English patronymic “-s” for “son of” began first in the English border counties and then in Wales. Welsh “P” surnames came from the “ap” roots, such as Price from “ap Rhys.”

These are some of the present-day Welsh surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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