Hughes Surname Genealogy

Hughes is a patronymic surname from
Anglo-Norman Hugo which developed in the vernacular as Hue and
Hugh.  St. Hugh of Lincoln established the first Carthusian
monastery in England in the 12th century.
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Wales. The name became prevalent in Wales, being first found
there in Carmarthenshire. This may seem surprising as Hugh was
Anglo-Norman in origin rather than Welsh. But Hugh (and
Hughes) became a Welsh name simply because it bore a resemblance to the
Welsh name of Hywel or Howell. Hughes gradually replaced Hywel in the
15th and
16th centuries.

North Wales. The
Hughes name in Wales today is mainly to be found in north
, in present day Clwyd and Gwynedd. Among early Hughes
in this

  • Daffyd
    Llwyd ap Hugh
    , who set up his family home at Plas
    in Anglesey in
    the 16th century. A descendant William Bulkeley Hughes was
    in developing Llandudno as a holiday resort in the 19th century.
  • David Hughes, a
    native of Beaumaris in Anglesey, who funded the free Grammar School
    there in
  • the Rev. William Hughes who became Bishop of St. Asaph
    in Flintshire in
    1573. A descendant the Rev. Edward Hughes bought the Kinmel
    Flintshire in the 1780’s. He had owned land on Parys mountain in
    where copper was discovered and had grown rich on its proceeds.
  • and John ap Hugh, a
    Quaker from Merionethshire, who emigrated to Pennsylvania on the Robert and Elizabeth in 1698. His
    descendants there became Hughes.

William ap Huw was born in Flintshire around
1570 and his descendants, who held land at Llewerllyd, became Hughes. They apparently had to fight for the right to
a seat and burial plot at their local church at
Dyserth. But their family tomb is there
and can be seen beneath a gnarled yew tree.

A 17th century Hughes line from
Gelle Faulor in Flintshire descended to the Rev. Thomas Hughes,
headmaster of
Ruthin School in Denbighshire, and to:

  • five generations of Hughes who were vicars of Uffington
    Berkshire over the course of the 18th century. The last of them,
    Thomas Hughes, was
    canon at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  • and to Thomas’s grandson Thomas Hughes, famous for his book about Rugby school, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, which came out
    in 1857.

England. There have
been Hughes recorded across the border, in Cheshire, Lancashire

One notable Hughes family was involved in the papermaking
industry from the 1760’s in the Manchester and Bolton area.
Hughes was a successful industrialist in St. Helens who became a major
landowner in Sutton. Some of the English Hughes had originally
come from
Wales. Quentin Hughes who did much to preserve Liverpool’s
architectural heritage had Welsh parents.

Ireland. Hughes came to
Ireland from Wales; or it can also be Irish – from the Gaelic O’Haodha,
meaning “fire.” The name crops up principally in Armagh (where it
the second most common surname), but is also in Fermanagh and Tyrone.

A Welsh Hughes family
came over with Cromwell in 1649 and settled first in Monaghan and then
Tyrone. Hughes from this family
emigrated to Tennessee and Canada in the early 1800’s.

began to arrive in America around the year 1700, into Virginia and

Virginia. There
Hughes in Virginia by 1700, reportedly from Wales.
One old account talks of a Trader Hughes
who established a trading post with his Indian wife on the north side
of the
James river. Another line was in
Powhatan county. Jesse Hughes, whose
father had been killed by Indians in 1778, later became one of the most
frontier scouts of his time.

Hughes, born of uncertain origins in Virginia around 1780, was the
forebear of
Howard Hughes
senior, who made his fortune in oil drilling equipment,
and of his
more famous son Howard Hughes junior, the aviator pioneer and film

John Hughes, formerly
John ap Hugh, was the forebear of the Quaker Hughes in Berks county. His son Ellis moved from Gwynedd to Olney in
1731 and was a leader at the Exeter Meeting.
Ellis’s son John married Daniel Boone’s daughter Hannah in 1742
and they
had two children before Hannah died at the age of 27.

Another Ellis Hughes of this family, a
public surveyor, was among the first settlers of the Catawissa area in
county in the 1770’s. William Hughes,
his cousin, laid out the township in 1786 and Job Hughes, his brother,
was a
Quaker minister there.

Other Hughes
from Merionethshire came to Montgomery county, Pennsylvania where they
established their home, Walnut Grove,
in the early 1700’s. John Hughes of this
family was appointed the stamp officer for Pennsylvania by Benjamin
Franklin in
1765. Isaac Hughes was in residence at Walnut Grove during the Revolutionary
War and General Washington visited him frequently there during his time
Valley Forge.

Thomas Hughes, from a wealthy Irish family in
Donegal, came to Virginia in 1739 because of religious problems. His family
large landowners, first in Virginia and then in Pennsylvania, retaining
house servants that they had brought with them from Ireland. Later Hughes migrated west to Indiana and
Ohio. Thomas Hughes’s 1880 book Memoirs of My Family described their

Hughes from a Hughes sept in Tyrone emigrated to America in
1817. He
became a Catholic priest there and
was regarded as “the best known if not exactly the best loved Catholic
in the country.” He
was the
first Archbishop of New York and founder of Fordham University.

Canada. In 1804 Job Hughes, the Quaker
minister at Catawissa, moved to the new Quaker settlement at Newmarket
Ontario. His son Samuel became a
president of Canada’s first farm cooperative, the Farmers’ Storehouse
and was a reform politician.

Hughes, the Canadian munitions minister in World War One, had Irish
blood in
him. His father John Hughes worked at Tyrone,
Ontario and then at Solina nearby,
which was where Sam was born.

Australia. Billy
Hughes, born and raised in London, was the son of Welsh-speaking
parents. He came to Australia in 1884 at
the age of 22
and involved himself in politics, first with the Socialist League and
then with
the newly-formed Labor party. He was
Labor Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923 and
proved to be an effective and popular war leader

Hughes Miscellany

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

Hughes Names

was the Victorian author of Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
Billy Hughes, of Welsh
parentage, was Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923.  Charles
, a Republican politician from New York, was the Chief
Justice of the United States from 1930 to 1941.
Langston Hughes was an African
American poet who flourished during the Harlem Renaissance.  Howard
was an American aviator, industrialist, and film
maker. He was one of the wealthiest men of the world in the
1930’s but ended his life as a recluse.
Ted Hughes was the English Poet
Laureate from 1984 to 1998.

Select Hughes Today

  • 148,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Gwynedd)
  • 90,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 69,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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