Last name: Powell

This interesting name has two possible origins, the first and most generally applicable to modern-day bearers of the name being from the early medieval Welsh patronymic form of the personal name "Hywel". In Welsh this was rendered as "ap-Howell" or "Hywel", meaning "son of Hywel", a male personal name popular since the Middle Ages in honour of the great 10th Century law-giving Welsh King. In time the two elements contracted to produce the name "Powell", which is first recorded in its modern form as Roger ap Howell, alias Powell, named in a lawsuit in 1563. The second possible origin of the surname is English and derives from a patronymic form of the given name Paul, meaning "small", from the Latin "paulus", and found in Langlands's "Piers Plowman" in 1367 as "Powel". One James Powell embarked in the "Thomas and John" for Virginia in June 1635, at 12 yrs. of age being one of the youngest emigrants recorded. There are twenty-seven "Powell" entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography". These include Professor Baden-Powell (1796 - 1860), whose son was Sir George Baden-Powell, M.P. (1847 - 1898) who in turn was the father of Col. Robert (later Lord) Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout and Guide Movement. Col. Baden-Powell defended Mafeking against the Boers in 1900 for 217 days, using "Boy" Scouts as his communication runners. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip ap Howel which was dated 1285, in the "Radnorshire Charter Rolls", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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Katie Powell

That is interesting b/c my family crest is in England :)

Katie Powell

My fathers side is this last name :)

Eva Renee Powers

Katie, what is your father name. I am looking for Katie Powell. E-mail

melanie powell

Do any of you have any information regarding Walter Herman Powell?

Antwuan Powell
My grand father was Solomon Powell from Alabama his father was Solomon Powell also from Alabama and his father was Milton Powell born in 1869

Bernadette Powell Moore

My grandfather is from Alabama. His name is Zachary Hayes Powell. Have you ever heard of him? Any relation?

My mat GM Minnie Powell was from Coomasaharn,Co Kerry---had many sis & bros - one of which was Lucy Powell-@ Lucy Powell. She migrated to Bklyn NY - along w/ brother Bill Powell.

Eileen Conway nee Powell
Can't believe this is the first thing I looked at on this site. My Mother was Quirke from Coomasaharin and my Father was Powell from Ballinakilla. I never heard of Powells in Coom. My father had a brother Bill and an Uncle Bill who emigrated to America. My Uncle Tom Powell has been in America for 66years. He was from Ballinakilla, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry.


Eileen, your probably related to my wife because her maternal grandfather's mother was Quirke from Coomasaharn. Where are you living now? In Ireland or the USA? We live in Tralee and are going back to Ballinakilla graveyard sometime in the next few days to tend to my wife's Uncle and Grandparent's grave. P.S. Looks like to very closely related to Colleen !!!


Colleen, I've checked the Irish Census forms for 1901 and 1911 and there were (as Eileen said) Powells living in the townland of Ballinakilla where the local graveyard is situated. In the 1901 Census there's a family of Powells (John 68yrs married to Kate & son William 33yrs) Farmers living in house No. 2 and their father William 86yrs is living with his daughter Ellen 36yrs (married to O'Sullivan) next door in No. 1. Then there are 4 Powells listed as step children of the Cahill (pronounced Kaahill and gaeiic for Charles) family in House No. 12 also in Lower Ballinakilla.They were James 16yrs, Willie 18yrs, Minnie 20yrs and John 22 yrs. Their mother was Mary who had lost her husband and had married again to Michael Cahill with whom she had borne 5 children ranging from 3 to 13yrs. So the Minnie above is most likely your GM because in the 1911 Census there's only one house with Powells listed. They are in house No. 21 and are John 72yrs, his wife Catherine 70yrs, their son William 44yrs, William's wife Ellen 27yrs and their 9 month old son John. These people were farmers. P.S. Your own surname is correctly spelt Murtagh but was bastardised by those who went to the USA and wanted to hide their past.for various reasons - sometimes it was men who walked out on their wives leaving behind many dependent children and who didn't want to be traced!!!

My last name is Powell. I would love to know the ancestral heritage of my name, last name. However, I am African American and no idea if the being welsh has anything to do with slaves working on plantations that were given these last names. So I don't think so, that being welsh applies to anything for me. Newssflassh everybody. There's a CRAP TON of Powell's in Minnesota. and they're ALL BLACK.

I hear ya, my last name is Powell as well and I live in south-Florida. I'm African-American, but the funny thing is down here ppl always seem to think I'm a Jamaican because of the last name. I've had a few Native American ppl bring it up to me as well. I thought it was odd. Idk, but I'm black lol and that I do know.

Lola, that is because in Jamaica... the last name Powell is all over the place. I am researching the last name Powell and Alvarenga for my sisters friend.

I think you will find that there were Slave Traders whose name was Powell, often Slaves and the children of Slave owners were given the name of the owner. The people were traded from Africa and taken either to work the plantations in the Caribbean or to UK for domestic service

^Linda's right


You should look into Jamaican history for more on African American/Powell legascy.

Look up the Powells and Ap Howells from Wales.

James M Powell Jr
Hello This is very interesting and I trying very hard to find out where my name originate from.I was born and raised in Baltimore,MD and now live in Atlanta,GA.Does the name Powell come from royalty in England.

I've done a lot of research on Powell for a friend of mine. I've come across much royalty within this family. Most noted, I think, around 1066 a.d. in the same period as the Battle of Hastings.

My GGGrandmother was Lucy Virginia Powell-Johnson, born in Baltimore, daughter of Lewis who was son or grandson of George Powell, who was given the land grant to Talbot City/Dorchester area Maryland. After she was born, she returned to Wales, where there was still a "family home", was educated and then returned to the USA. She was married in Mathews Virginia to Captain William Conly Johnson. They lived there for some time before returning to Baltimore. According to my grandmother, (Lucy would have been her paternal grandmother) she was a nurse during the civil war and spoke with an "English" accent. She was also affluent because grandmom said that when she would visit, she'd leave money under her teacup because she knew her parents were poor.

my name is lucy.......and my last name is powell ........awkward hehehe

and my dad's name is george.......

Colleen Murtha
My maternal g/m Mary Powell from Coomasaharn Co. Kerry-had a sister Lucy Powell...migrated to Bklyn NY - has a living son Fr Jack.

eileen conway nee powell
What dates are you talking about? There were no Powell's from Coomasaharin in the last 100 years. In the same townland but not Coom. Sorry to put the cat among the pidgeons. The name in the area is pronounced "Pole" or as in welsh "Poell" I visit the area regularly and still have a lot of family there. I was born in England but know the area and the locals very well. I also have loads of cousins in and around New York and New Jersey who are Powells and other cousins, their mother was a Powell.

Matt Powell
My last name is Powell. My Grandfather was Irish from Ireland but he came over when he was a baby and didn't know his parents so it's been hard for us to find any good history on our name.

patrick powell
im a powell from the midlands in ireland

kara powell
I am a powell from canada! :)


powell from ohio :)

Cynthia Powell-Gilbert

My father is Charles Powell, son of William and Bertha Powell from Maryland. One of my uncles was James Herman Powell. Are we family?

Shannon Elmore
This was very insightful! I am from the last known Powells in our line. Several disappeared years back,and then my great grandfather Joseph went missing. Thank you

Bonnie Tapley
This really caught my eye My grandmother was married to a Joseph "Jo" Powell who disappeared.

Terrill Powell
With out the welsh the english would have crumbled a long time ago. Oh and Captain Morgan was a Powell and we were the last known holders of the Holy Grail. So either we had the chalice or we are the bloodline.

melanie powell cagle

Please contact me. Melanie powell cagle on fb. And

Martha Powell
I love that this discussion continues after all this time. My maiden name was Powell. Also am a descendant of John "The Great" Mathis ,originally Matthews, from Wales. Am proud to be of Welsh heritage. Wales rocks!

Harry Powell
My name is Harry Llewellyn Powell. I am Australian. My Great Grandfather came from the USA. His family migrated to the USA from Wales and he subsequently migrated to Australia and married in Australia. His name was William Llewellyn Powell. In discussions with my Father and Grandfather I learned that our family and our name originated in Wales and was derived from ap Howell (or ap Hywel). I have high regard for my Father and Grandfather and I am proud of my Welsh heritage.

donald powell
my father was harry powell, thay used to pass the names down through history, my name is donald powell. and i know the powells was in the first virginia colony.

my understanding is that it can mean "man from the pool, pond or lake (pool rendered as pwyll) and that colloquially (sic) is used to note a man's livelihood, ie: a fisherman. Much as Chandler means candlemaker, Cooper is a barrelmaker, etc. Don't remember where I got the info but do know I've read it in more than 1 source.

I've also heard Powell meant 'dweller by the pool".

Barry Barry
I've heard of a chip on your shoulder but you Mr Jenkins have surely got a full on potato wedge on yours, the reason the majority of surnames are linked to England? Is all down to the Norman invasion I'm afraid so in actual fact your probably more French than Welsh does that help reduce the chip

powell derives from the same way a other welsh names powell - ap hywel pritchard - ap richard parry - ap harry - ap harri bowen - ab owen - ab owain

Robert Powell

Very cool to find this information on our shared name!