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Edwards Family History
This surname and its variants – Edward, Edwards, Edwardson and Edwardes – derive from the personal name Edward and, as such, is a patronymic surname which refers back to an ancestor who had Edward as a given name.
The original name Edward comes from an Old English name which is composed of the elements 'ead', meaning prosperity or fortune, and 'w(e)ard', meaning guard. It was very popular in England, as well as throughout large parts of Europe, mainly as it was the name of several English kings, including Edward the Confessor (c.1003–1066).
In England, hereditary surnames such as Edward and Edwardson, had become established by around 1400, however in Wales such surnames only became evident between the 16th and 19th centuries, depending on where in the country a family lived and on their social status. The further west and north a family lived in Wales, the later they adopted a hereditary surname. In some parts of the north west, some families only adopted such a surname during the first half of the 19th century. In Wales therefore, the Edward/Edwards surname refers back to an ancestor with the given name Edward who lived during that period.
It is widespread throughout Wales and in adjacent English counties, including Herefordshire and Shropshire. It is less common in the north of England and Scotland.
In 1881, the surname was widespread across Wales as well as the south and west of England. The highest number of Edwards entries was recorded in Kent with 2,415 occurrences. The most common occupation for Edwards family members in 1881 was farming, labouring and coal mining.
In 1891, 82,799 individuals were recorded as having the Edwards surname in England and Wales, with a further 1,272 recorded in Scotland.
- Jonathan Edwards (1703—58), an American philosopher, preacher and president of Princeton University, was well known for A Dissertation Concerning The End For Which God Created The World. It was published after his death in 1765 along with a similar publication – The Nature of True Virtue.
- Huw Edwards (b. 1961), Welsh journalist, presenter and BBC newsreader. Raised in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, his father was Hywel Teifi Edwards, a prominent Welsh academic, broadcaster and author.
- Jonathan Edwards (b. 1966), English triple jumper and TV presenter, and Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion who has held the world triple jump record since 1995.
- In August 1809, a William Edwards, an English convict from Kent, was transported aboard the 'Ann', settling in New South Wales, Australia.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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