Last name: Williams

Recorded in various spellings including William, Williams, and Williamson, this is a surname which can be of English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh origins. Wherever found it is ultimately Germanic, and was introduced into England and Scotland around the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Carried by four English kings, it derives from the personal name "Wilhelm" composed of the elements "wil", meaning "of strong mind", and "helm", translating literally as helmet, but in this context meaning "protection". As a patronymic the short form of "s", meaning "son of", is often added, although the name is popular particularly in Scotland in its long style of Williamson. Political correctness is not a new phenomena, and after the accession of King William 1st in 1066, the name became the most popular British personal name, and with the creation of surnames from the 12th century, an equally popular surname. The list of prominent holders of the surname is almost endless, but one of the more unusual could be said to be the famous republican Oliver Cromwell, who "reigned" in England from 1650 to 1658, and whose family were formerly called Williams. They held extensive estates in Wales, but under instructions from King Henry V111 (1510 - 1547), the family name was changed to Cromwell. Griffith Williams, (1589 -1672), was the bishop of Ossory in Ireland, and a staunch supporter of the martyrd King Charles 1st. Edward Williams, (1746 - 1826), helped to preserve the ancient Welsh language being Chief Druid and bard of Wales. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Richard William. This was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls" of the county of Oxfordshire, England.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2015

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

lisa kay williams

i need to know about my grandad's side of his family. james bascom williams sr. he was born on august 15, 1892 in marshall county, ms.

Joel Williams

Joel Williams here, go team Williams

Gene Williams

My family history goes back to Wales, but that was many years ago, before the American Revolution.

Nancy Pinnell
My mother was Bertha Viola Williams, her father Phillip Malankthom Williams, his father John Martin Williams- died Alabama 1941, married Susannah Patty- had 7 sons and one daughter. We have kin in Ala. & Tenn.

annakay williams
i love the name williams but it is coming from a long way god i would love to learn more about my last name

This is all very FUNNY. My mother's maiden name was Williams, but was supposed to have been translated to that from an Italian last name of Guiguliamo at Ellis Island when they got off the boat

This is not funny. It's real. Many surnames of immigrants to US were translated or anglicized, so Guglielmi (meaning "son of Guglielmo") became Williams (son of William) etc.. That's why the number of Italian-Americans or other ethnic groups is underestimated

lisa kay williams
i'm from memphis, tn. and this is very good to me. and new i don't know much so i take this as a great meaning and a very good meaning also. lisa williams.

Lisa Hampe
My surname means safe enclosure and my husband 2b's name is Williams, so when we marry we are having joint names which will translate to 'safe enclosure for a strong helmet' Oh how we are laughing at the moment!!

Donna Williams Thompson
I agree with both of you, the men are usually on the tall side . And we have the round eyes and stubby nose. I am looking for Williams from the Tulsa Ok area. My grandfather was Jesse Williams. He had many brothers and sisters. My gr gr grandfather was John Davenport Williams.

That's funny. My dad was born in 1921 and his name was Jesse Williams, but he was from Virginia and also had many brothers and sisters. His dads name was Thomas Jesse Williams. Popular name

otho williams
My grandpa was from that area I think he had a big family

Alana Williams
My great grandfather was Jesse Williams of Williams mountain west Virginia

Robert Williams

My brother and I are from Tulsa, he is James Glen Williams and I am Robert Douglas Williams, our father was Clarence Glen Williams and his father was Clarence Williams. They were from Morrilton, Arkansas.

Chris Williams

I live in Morrilton. My father was William(Bill) Junior Williams. My grandfather was William Robert Williams... About as far back as I know...

Not all Williamses. My Williamses are rather short and at "sturdy". We all have similar features of wide set round eyes and "pug" noses.

Colin Crawford
I tracked my great grandfather's (James Williams) family back to Wales in Llandeilo and Llangadog. What's surprising about this is that my mother moved there 2 years ago into the same area without knowing where her family came from. Definitely gone back to her roots.

Amy Ferryman
How would you find the origin of an African-American with the last name Williams?

I believe the Williams for American - Africans derive from the slaves owners. That is how I discovered my origin of the last name of Williams. My great grandfather was a Buffalo soldier in Ft. Davis, Texas. Apparently he was from Kentucky but that's as far as I could get.

Generally African-Americans chose their surname after their owner, or else they chose a name like Freeman or some such.

mark Loughran
my ex wifes a williams she is welcome to it back!

Jack Williams
I thought there would be loads of comments seeing how this is the most common name ever! (besides Smith probably)

jeanine williams murnane

I had read Williams is the 3rd most common name after Johnson and Smith