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.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2016

Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA!

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll

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.

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

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.

Look up the Powells and Ap Howells from Wales.

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.

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.

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

Katie Powell

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

Michael Clamens
The Powells in Bermuda are a mix of Carib Indian and Welch Powell thanks to pirates of the Caribbean like John Powell. My grandpa was named Howard Powell he was also a farmer and a seafaring man. There is a lot of Powell history in Bermuda. The Powells have been not only part of the beginning of Bermuda history, but world history.

Jathan powell
Most family lives in ky. But I know my family goes back to Powell valley Virginia

Aja Powell
I got this last name from my father's side of the family.

Hannah Sabrina Powell
This is very interesting as I am trying to trace my bloodline as far back as I can go !

Anyone know Dorothy Powell (dot) Birkenhead 1930s

I live in New Zealand and apparently from my dad's side of the family. I don't remember but I guess it's my great great great grandfather came from the West Indies with the surname Powell. He is black. So I'm wi de ring how did he got a white sir name ?

Brian Butterly
looking for direct descendants of Thomas Edmund Powell - of Dorking Surrey please because Powell corduroy school is celebrating 200 years in 2016 - he helped fund a new building in 1898 as a major benefactor

Christina Diane wade
My uncle is Edward lee Powell

Eileen Potocnak Arnold
My great-grandmother on my father's paternal line came through Ellis Island in 1888-1889. She was from the Carpathian mountain region between Slovakia and Ukraine and didn't speak English. Her maiden name was listed as Powell. I'm guessing it was anglisized from Pavel by an immigration often did that happen to immigrants?

My history