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Family spelling variants includes Powells, Poel, Powle, Powel

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POWELL Family History

The main origin of this surname comes from the Welsh personal name Hywel which was often anglicised to Howel or Howell. However, for many families who are mainly of English descent the origins of the surname lie elsewhere.

Traditionally, there were no fixed, hereditary surnames in Wales. Instead, Welsh men and women used a patronymic system, which means they were identified via their given name plus their father's (or grandfather's) personal name. For example, a man named Huw who was the son of a man named Hywel would be known as Huw ap Hywel (or Hugh ap Howell in the anglicised form), which literally means 'Huw the son of Hywel'. Over time, 'ap Hywel' or 'ap Howell' was contracted to form the word 'Powell'. Settled, hereditary surnames such as Powell were then gradually adopted by Welsh families between the 16th and 19th centuries, depending on where in the country they lived.

The name is seen quite frequently across Wales and in the English counties that border the country, including Shropshire and Herefordshire, where Welsh influence remained strong over the centuries.

For Powell families with no Welsh connections, their surname is more likely derived from the Biblical name Paul or the French form Puel.

Hywel is an ancient given name, and was the name of one of Wales's most well known historical figures, Hywel Dda (Howell the Good), the 10th century king of Deheubarth (south west Wales) who later came to rule most of the geographic area we know today as Wales, and who famously codified traditional Welsh law.



A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (1896) by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley
An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names (1857) by William Arthur
British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning (1903) by Henry Barber

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Levi Powell born 1799 in North Carolina USA

Margaret Herbert

My Ggrandfather Tom Price told his Daughter , when he got older, that his real surname was Powell. He changed his name when young , to go to sea as his Mother wouldn’t permit him to go. The family name has gone by Price all these years, I know he had Brothers, not sure of any Sisters, as 1 Brother came to visit from N.Wales on his motorcycle when my Mother, his GDaughter was around 13 yrs old. She lived with them for a while. On the census he said he was from Bodwrog, Anglesey. If there is anyone that has heard of him, Evan Tom Price , from relatives , I would love to hear from you. Cannot find out anything else except what’s on census,


David and Phyllis Powell, of New York circa 1820-30? Came from England? I cannot find any other info.

Anthony Barrett

(Part 1 of 3) The Powell name has a long history in Wales, but now DNA and some recorded history says their origin is from the Emerald Island. The Powell story [dominated by DNA tribal marker R1b-L513, Subgroup B2] can trace their origins to the Finn Valley in Donegal, Ireland from 50 BCE. Perhaps the journey begins with the Clanna Dedad; Deda, son of Sen or Deda Mac Sin. The Powell surname origin is from Clan Domnaill [DNA Tribe R1b-L513, Subgroup B1] and relations who remain in Ireland take the modern surname (O’)Donnelly, McDonald and Donohue in Ireland.

Anthony Barrett

(Part 2 of 3) According to research, the Domnaill name is also found in Brittany, France. It is a very old name which appears in the 5th century Roman inscriptions as Dumnovellaunos in Brittany meaning “Deep Valour” equivalent to Irish Domhnaill. But how could this be? Recent discoveries from DNA testing are unlocking the migration patterns of Celtic tribes as late as 800 CE to 1200 CE. The Powell story begins in pre-history Ireland then moves to Wales where the family can be traced back to their Welsh tribe Cydifor Fawr. Many of his kin will then move to Brittany, France during the Dark Ages.

Anthony Barrett

(Part 3 of 3) Discover their newly found untold story and how forgotten texts bring their story back to life. From the ebook, “The Tribe Within” learn how DNA unfolds this amazing tale and if you look in the right places, how history narrates this evidence. There is another written account of their story, but it is camouflaged in smoke and myth – it will become the tales of King Arthur. Come follow in the footsteps of Deda Mac Sin and visit


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