Lloyd Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Lloyd Surname Meaning

Lloyd derives from the Welsh word lwyd, meaning “gray.” It probably applied first as a nickname, for a grey haired person at a time when few lived to be old, or perhaps a holy man who habitually wore grey garments.

The Welsh “Ll” in Lloyd was sometimes represented by “Fl,” yielding a related surname Floyd. Lloyd and Floyd could be interchangeable in earlier times.

Lloyd Surname Resources on The Internet

Lloyd Surname Ancestry

  • from Wales and Western England
  • to America, Canada and Australia

Wales. The Lloyd family of Maesyfelin in Cardiganshire is believed to date back to a Welsh ancestor who captured Cardigan castle from the Norman invaders in 1164. The first of this family to adopt the Lloyd name was Gwilym Lloyd in the 14th century.

The main branch moved to Carmarthenshire in the early 1600’s. But other Lloyds came into the Cardigan area, notably the 18th century farmer and poet David Lloyd.

Even Teg (Evan the Handsome) of Dolobran in Montgomeryshire took the Lloyd name in 1476. Seven generations later, Charles Lloyd joined the Quakers in 1662 and was one of the group imprisoned in Welshpool jail. He languished there for ten years for refusing to swear the oath to the King. His brother Thomas Lloyd, also imprisoned, later departed for America. One of his sons Charles stayed home and built a Quaker meeting house at Dolobran, another son Sampson, who had been born in jail, moved to Birmingham in England.

As English-style surnames started to replace the old Welsh patronymic names, the Lloyd name began to appear in north Wales. Meredith Lloyd lived at Llanelian-yn-Rhos in Denbighshire in the mid 1500’s. His son George was a bishop, best remembered for Bishop Lloyd’s palace in Chester built in the early 1600’s. Another Lloyd family held lands near Bala in Merionethshire, first at Rhiwaedog and then at Hendwr.

Lloyds in north Wales were also to be found in Flintshire.  Sir Edward Lloyd made his home at Pengwerm in the 1700’s and devoted himself there to country pursuits.

“His lordship keeps two packs of hounds for the amusement of his friends and the neighboring gentry and, though in the 78th year of his age, seldom misses mounting his scarlet, particularly if the hounds turn out within eight or ten miles of his mansion.”

The later distribution of the Lloyd name, however, showed a shift towards Glamorgan and Monmouthshire in south Wales. 

England.  The Lloyds of north Wales extended into the border counties of Shropshire and Cheshire in England. The Lloyds of Leaton Knolls in Shropshire were descended from Madoc Lloyd, “lord of Chirk” in Wales. Robert Lloyd held Aston Hall near Oswestry in the late 1500’s. Later Roberts of this family were MP’s for Shropshire in the 18th century.  There was a Lloyd family of judges and legal clerks based in Chester in the late 18th century.

Sampson Lloyd arrived in Birmingham from Wales in 1698 and bought and operated iron forges in the area. He was for a short time running the largest steel foundry in Britain. In 1765 his son Sampson Lloyd II formed a company with a button maker John Taylor and his own son, Sampson III, to create Birmingham’s first bank. It prospered under Sampson III and his step-brother Charles as Lloyds Bank and it still does.

Lloyds also became a household name through Edward Lloyd who kept a coffee-house in Lombard Street in city of London in the 1690’s. His premises became a centre for shipbroking and the marine insurance business at that time and it was from him that the great commercial corporation known as “Lloyd’s” derived its name.  

Ireland. Some Lloyds made it to Ireland. In the early 1800’s William Lloyd from Yorkshire married into the Anglo-Irish Whitelocke family who owned Strancally castle in Waterford. One family history traces the Lloyds of Doon in Limerick.

America. Thomas Lloyd, a Quaker and brother of Charles, took his family to Pennsylvania with William Penn in 1683. He died there in 1694. Another Quaker from Wales, David Lloyd, arrived there in 1686 and served as its Attorney General and later Chief Justice.

Wye House on the eastern shore of Maryland was the historic home of the Lloyd family for eight generations, starting with Edward Lloyd in the 1660’s. The original house, that had been burnt by British marauders during the Revolutionary War, was replaced by a new structure in 1790. Edward Lloyd IV served as Governor of Maryland from 1809 to 1811.

Canada. A Quaker family of Lloyds left their home in Pennsylvania and crossed over to Niagara in Canada in the early 1800’s. Much later Jesse Lloyd was involved in a political rebellion and fled the country in 1837. A Government notice described him as follows:

“Long straight hair rather thin and turning gray – stoops very much in his gait, has scarcely any teeth left – one remarkably prominent, which is much observed when he speaks, very round-shouldered, height about five feet ten or eleven inches; generally dresses in a drab or brown homespun clothing.”

Maybe this would also describe the early Welsh lwyd or Lloyd. Jesse Lloyd himself died in America the following year.

Australia.  Edward Lloyd came on the Skerne to the colony of Freemantle in 1830 from Liverpool as an indentured farm laborer.   His descendants migrated first to South Australia and then, at the time of the gold rush in the 1850’s, to Victoria.

Lloyd Surname Miscellany

The Lloyds of Maesyfelin.  The forces of the Earl de Clare, one of the Norman conquerors of Wales, held Cardigan castle, but in 1164 Cadifor ap Dinawal, after scaling the stone walls with long ladders, succeeded in capturing the place. For this feat he was rewarded with a coat of arms and the hand of the daughter of Lord Rhys, Prince of south Wales. His family later held Maesyfelin manor near Lampeter in Cardiganshire.

The first of this family to adopt the Lloyd name was Gwilym Lloyd in the 14th century.  Later Lloyds were:

  • Hugh Lloyd of Castle Howel, sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1567;
  • his son, Thomas Lloyd the treasurer of St. David’s Cathedral;
  • his son Marmaluke Chief Justice of Radnor, Brecknock and Glamorgan and the first to settle at Maesyfelin;
  • and his son Francis who fought for King Charles during the Civil War but was described as being “not cast in the same mould as his father.”

Still, Francis Lloyd is remembered; or rather his love for his mistress Bridgett Leigh is remembered.  While Francis was alive Bridgett was routinely called his concubine.  When he died in 1669, however, he secured in his will her future and that of their three children who were all legitimized and made heirs to the Maesyfelin estate.

The story of Bridgett then darkens with the legendary curse that was laid on the Lloyd estate and its heirs in the 1640’s:

  • “May God’s curse be upon Maesyfelin,
  • On every stone and every root,
  • For casting the flower of Llandovery town
  • Headlong into the Towy to drown.”

Did the curse foretell the downfall of the Lloyds of Maesyfelin? The estate became encumbered in debts by the early 18th century.  John Lloyd then united Maesyfelin with his neighboring Peterwell estate in 1750. However, this last Lloyd owner was so tyrannical and cruel that he was known in history as the evil squire of Peterwell.  He died by his own hand in London in 1769.

The Lloyds of Rhiwaedog.  According to family history, the Lloyds became possessed of Rhiwaedog in Merioneth in 1395 by the marriage of their ancestor Meredydd ab Ieuan ab Meredydd to Margaret, the eldest daughter and co-heiress of Einion ab Ithel of Rhiwaedog.  Lywarch Hen, an early Welsh chieftain and bard, was said to predate them in lineage.

This family, in the course of the centuries, provided Merioneth with a number of sheriffs – including John Lloyd in 1616, the first perhaps to adopt the Lloyd name.  Dr. John Davies was a cleric at Llanfor church during John Lloyd’s time and he wrote a poem to John Lloyd, asking him to give local residents a horse in order for them to cross the river on the way to Llanfor church.

The main branch of the family died out in the early 19th century.

Thomas Lloyd the Quaker.  Thomas Lloyd and his brother Charles, together with several others of the gentry of Montgomeryshire, became converted to the faith of the Society of Friends under the teachings of George Fox in 1663.  Both were imprisoned for their faith in 1664 and they stayed in Welshpool jail until 1672.

“Welshpool had the worst reputation of any in Wales; and as a further humiliation those of some status who were imprisoned were put ‘in a low room; the felons and malefactors in a chamber overhead, their chamber pots and excrements, etc. often falling upon them.’”

Thomas had been a physician in Wales and had a large practice.  Being of his gentry class – and a man of high intellectual ability – he exercised a wide influence in matters of state, despite belonging to the Quakers.  He was offered the inducements of high position and great influence if he would renounce his religion, but he maintained his beliefs.

In 1681 he and Charles held a public disputation at Llanwilling Town Hall for his kinsman William Lloyd, Bishop of Asaph, one of the noted prelates whom James II had committed to the Tower.

Thomas eventually left Britain for the freedoms of America and arrived in Pennsylvania in 1683.  His wife Mary died three months after they stepped ashore.  He married again, Patience Story, a year later.  For most of his time there until his death in 1694 he was the highest officer or Chief Magistrate of the province.

John Lloyd in America.  According to a family letter written in 1838, John Lloyd was born in London of Welsh parentage.

“My father John Lloyd was born in the city of London in the year 1704 Old Christmas Day. He had two older brothers, Joseph a watch and clock maker and Philip a printer.  He was bound to a boot and shoemaker.  Before his term expired he married without his master’s consent. This by the laws of England disqualified a man from being a master workman and through his life he could only be a journeyman.  He returned home one evening from his work and found his wife and child both dead. This was a distressing circumstance.”

It is thought that John Lloyd came to America as an indentured prisoner, after having been convicted of the theft of some shoemaker’s tools.  His punishment was fourteen years of indentured service in America.  He was shipped in 1727 aboard the ship Rappahannock to Maryland.

Nothing more was known about John until his marriage to Prudence Emery in Virginia in 1742 when he was evidently a freed man.  For the remainder of his life he was a respected member of the Frederick county community.  All five of his sons fought in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Their descendants were to be found in Georgia and Texas.

Wye House.  Wye House Farm in Maryland was settled in the 1650’s by Edward Lloyd, a Welsh Puritan.  The farm was burnt down by the British during the Revolutionary War.  Edward Lloyd’s great grandson, Edward Lloyd IV, built a newer grander plantation house in 1790.

At its peak, the farm covered 20,000 acres and operated with more than a thousand slaves.  Abolitionist Frederick Douglass witnessed the cruelty displayed towards the slaves on the plantation in the 1820’s.  The Long Green, a mile-long expanse from the Great House to the Wye River, was the center of their working life.

The plantation house remains with the descendants of the Lloyd family.

Edward Lloyd and Lloyds of London.  Edward Lloyd was the owner of the coffee house that provided the name of Lloyd’s of London, the global insurance and financial institution.  Little is known about Lloyd’s early career, other than that he opened his shop sometime before 1688.  It became a popular spot for maritime business transactions, something Lloyd encouraged with a variety of services including the periodical Lloyd’s News.

The original location was on Tower Street, but Lloyd moved in 1691 to Lombard Street.  The business of shipping and insurance agreements continued after Lloyd’s death in 1713.  Lloyd’s List began publication in the 1730’s. By 1774 Lloyd’s of London was out of the coffee business and into insurance for good.

The Lloyds of Doon in Limerick.  John Lloyd was born, according to his death certificate in 1799 and was the forebear of the Lloyds of Doon in Limerick.  He married Margaret (Jessie) O’Dwyer and the next records in which he is mentioned are the baptismal records of his children in Doon in the 1830’s.  Margaret must have died, possibly during the famine years, because John remarried in 1853 to Ellen Hanley.

Before John’s second marriage, Griffiths Valuations showed him renting a house in Liscaugh townland in Doon village.  After his marriage he moved across the street to the house and garden which Ellen had rented in Doon South townland.

John was listed as a farm laborer and lived onto the age of ninety six (if his birth date is to be believed) before he died in 1895.  His son John was a tailor and had a draper’s shop in the village.  Two of his other sons emigrated in the 1870’s, Edmund to Chicago and Richard to New Zealand.  After working as a farm laborer for several years, Richard bought his own farm on the outskirts of Christchurch.

Lloyd Names

  • Edward Lloyd ran a coffee shop in London which was the centre of shipbroking and marine insurance in the late 1600’s. As a result insurance in London today means Lloyd’s of London.
  • Sampson Lloyd was the co-founder in Birmingham in 1765 of the bank that eventually became Lloyds Bank.
  • Harold Lloyd was an American film producer, famous for his comedies during the silent era.
  • Clive Lloyd, born in Guyana, was the West Indies cricket captain between 1974 and 1985 when the West Indies cricket team was the best in the world.
  • David Lloyd was the former English tennis player who founded the David Lloyd health clubs.

Lloyd Numbers Today

  • 65,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 23,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Lloyd 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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