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Adams Family History
This surname was originally a patronymic name, Adam, as seen in England but which derives ultimately from the Hebrew personal name 'Adam', and is of course prominent in Genesis, the first book of the BIble. Some scholars (Elsdon Coles Smith and Eric Rosenthal) believe the name comes from the Hebrew for 'red earth'.
The personal name was first recorded in England in around 1146-1153 with one Adam Warenarius of Lincolnshire. The surname developed into various forms, including Adamsone (recorded in Scotland in 1296), Adames (recorded in 1327 in Worcestershire) and as Adamessone (circa 1400 in Norfolk).
It also arose independently in the Gaelic speaking areas of Scotland, as MacAdam, MacAdaim and from thence to Northern Ireland where some who bear this name come from English and southern Scottish planter families. In Scotland in 1881 the surname was mainly found in Lanarkshire, Midlothian and Aberdeenshire. The vast majority of Adams registrations in the 1890 Birth Index for Ireland were recorded in Ulster.
In Ireland, the Mac Conshnamha sept (family division) of North Connacht also assumed the name Adams, as did two branches of the Cambro-Norman Barry family in Rathcormac and Ballynagloch in Co Cork.
Some of the earliest references to the surname appear on the 1273 Hundred Rolls for Huntingdonshire (Juliana Adams), on the 1327 Subsidy Rolls in Worcestershire (William Adames), and the 1379 Poll Tax of Yorkshire (Johannes Adamson, Johannes Adam, Thomas Adamson).
By 1881 the surname was numerous and widespread in Britain, especially in Staffordshire, Lancashire, Devon and Kent, as well as counties on either side of the Welsh border, Monmouthshire and Shropshire. Ten years later, in 1891, the surname was again chiefly found in those counties, along with a cluster recorded in the Welsh county of Montgomeryshire.
In Devon, England, as early as 1861 the frequency was recorded at 1,770, and in 1891 the frequency was 1,513. In the adjacent county of Somerset in 1891 it was 1337. In Kent it was 1,443.
- John Adams (1735–1826), 2nd President of the United States.
- John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), 6th President of the United States.
- Douglas Adams (1952–2001), English author, best known for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- James Adams from Norfolk, was one of 190 transported to Australia aboard the 'Asia' on 1st April 1822.
1861, 1881, 1891 Census
Special Report on Surnames in Ireland, R.E. Matheson, Dublin, 1901, 1909
A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, C.W.E. Bardsley, London 1872-96
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall, P. Woulfe, Dublin 1913
Some Anglicised Surnames in Ireland, Pádraig Mac Giolla-Domhnaigh, Dublin 1923
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain & Ireland, Hanks, Coates, McClure, 2016
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