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Wales (Cymru in Welsh) is a Celtic country on the western side of the island of Britain in northern Europe; it borders England to it’s east and to it’s west is Ireland, separated by the Celtic sea.
The native language of Wales is Welsh (Cymraeg) which has been influenced by various languages and cultures that have come in and out of Britain and Wales over the years. Welsh can also be found in it’s earlier form of Brythonic which is also the native indigenous language of the whole island of Britain. Present day Wales with a population of over 3 million people has two official languages, Welsh and English.
As the Welsh have emigrated from Wales to England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States of America, South America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and every other corner of the globe, it’s surnames have spread over the years to become very popular, especially so in the Welsh and English speaking worlds.
Jones for example is the number one surname in Wales, the second most popular in Australia, New Zealand, the island of Britain and the fifth most popular surname in the United States of America. Williams is the second most popular surname in Wales, the 3rd most popular in the U.S.A , Australia and New Zealand and the 5th most popular surname in Britain.
There are officially around 6461 different recorded Welsh family names but only around 50 represent the majority of Welsh people. According to recent international research by the Welsh Government there are known to be 16 million people in the Welsh and English speaking world with Welsh ancestry, 11 million of them in the USA, although the actual number of people of recent Welsh heritage in the whole world is likely to be over 50 million due to women losing their Welsh surnames through marriage etc.
This top 50 surname list is obviously not indicative of every single Welsh name or surname and is not supposed to be an exclusive definition of nationality :0) The idea is to name and describe the top 50 most well known / popular Welsh surnames of Wales and where they derive from, that we hope will be of interest to all.
We have tried to keep this top 50 list to names that can be traced back to Wales at least two centuries back for the sake of consistency. New names and surnames are obviously always developing and being introduced into Wales through intermarriage and as populations grow.
A brief explanation of the A to Y lists:
The first name to appear in the surname titles will be the main surname under question. Next to it and to it’s right will be the variations or original source of that name in the order of it’s development / adaptation. If the name was originally a native Welsh language name, the adapted English language equivalent will appear to it’s right. If the name is an adapted name not originally native to Wales then it’s adapted Welsh language equivalent will appear to it’s right. The details and background information about the surname will then appear below these titles.
In the case of some names such as Morgan, Rhys or Arthur, these were original names which are still used and effectively haven’t changed so remain as they are here (with the later variations of Rhys, such as Rees being treated as separate name titles).For a more detailed explanation of the 4 main types of Welsh surnames categories see the ‘Classes of surnames’ tab.