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Williams Family History
The Williams surname has several spelling variations, including William, Willems and Williamson, and it has English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh origins. With an 's' added at the end it takes on a patronymic meaning, namely 'son of William'. In Scotland the longer, related variant, Williamson, is particularly popular.
Ultimately, it has Germanic roots and was introduced to the UK around the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name of four English kings, it derives from the personal name "Wilhelm" composed of the elements 'wil', meaning 'of strong mind', and 'helm', translated literally as helmet in this context it means 'protection'. In 1881, The Williams family name was found in the UK, USA and Canada.
In Wales it derives from the personal name William and sometimes from the Welsh version, Gwilym, and is a patronymic surname meaning the son of William (or 'ap Gwilym' in Welsh). It developed into a hereditary or settled surname – Williams – between the 16th and 19th centuries, depending on where in Wales the family lived.
In 1881 the Williams population in the UK was 213,957. The surname was most widespread across Wales and the west of England – 25,890 in the county of Glamorgan and 17,547 registered across the 71 districts within the Welsh county of Caernarfonshire. The Williams population in Lancashire was 18,213 and in Cornwall it was 6,800. In the south of England, in Kent, there were 3,669 Williams entries on the 1881, while the county recorded an early reference to the name – a Thomas Williams who lived in Sandwich in 1539. Williams was less commonly found in the county of Gloucestershire, with Bristol area having only 539 bearers.
The most common occupation for Williams men in the UK in 1881 was farmer, followed by coal miner, labourer and agricultural labourer.
1881, 1891 Census The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016.
1881 Census in Bristol All Sts, Gloucestershire and Kent
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
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