Instinctively all Welsh people know that there are lots of Jones', Davies' and Williams' in Wales. In the table below, here's the proof. The ten most popular Welsh surnames account for over 60% of all Welsh people. Did you also know that many Welsh surnames have their own tartan, see Jones tartan below..
The ancient Welsh patronymic naming system describes the process of giving a child the father's forename, as a surname. This means that a family's name (surname) changes in successive generations. The Welsh patronymic system describes family trees in terms of the male line only and records the family association in the 'ap' or 'ab' prefix ('ap' is a contraction of the Welsh word 'mab', which means son). For example, Rhys ap Dafydd translates as 'Rhys, son of David'. Modern Welsh surnames such as Powell, Price and Prichard are the result of this contraction and a progressive tendency to Anglicise Welsh names: under the patronymic system they would have been ap Hywel, ap Rhys and ap Richard.
This process of conversion to the system of fixed names in Wales began in the fifteenth century and continued through to the middle of the eighteenth century. The trend was stratified socially: the higher classes in society began the process, which then was passed on to the lower classes.
The range of Welsh surnames is small, due in part to this process of conversion, but also because of the growing tendency to adopt English forenames (usually taken from Christian saints), particularly in towns on the Welsh borders. Names such as John, William, David and Hugh became Jones, Williams, Davis and Hughes. In north Wales, place names were frequently adopted, and in mid Wales families adopted nicknames for surnames. Jenkins is possibly derived from two different sources: as a corruption of a Flemish version of John, and as a result of the popularity of the name Ieuan in Wales during this period. Ieuan also gave rise to Evan(s) and Jones.
The way in which official records of births, marriages and deaths were kept also complicates the issue. The Act of Union (1536) stated that all official documentation in Wales was to be carried out in the English language. This meant that Welsh names were registered in an anglicised form. The process of civil registration in 1837 completed the long transition to fixed surnames. The traffic was not all one-way, though. The names of Welshmen who migrated to England were often transposed into English, so Ddu became Dee and Caradog became Craddock.
Welsh Tartans by Surname
Embrace your Heritage with a Welsh Tartan Scarf or Keyring. Many Welsh surnames have a Welsh tartan. Our Welsh tartan scarves are made with luxury, pure new worsted wool. These unisex scarves are approximately 150 x 28 centimetres (58 x 11 inches) in length and is 350 grams (13 ounces) in weight. Finished with a fringe., it includes the sewn in label of the tartan name.
Many of the most numerous Welsh surnames available - the most popular five are Jones, Davies, Williams, Evans and Thomas, but there are many more! There's also a range of Welsh national tartans such as Owain Glyndwr, St David's and Pride of Wales. (Go to Welsh Tartans)