Comes from the old Welsh name of Rhys which is a well known name used for Welsh princes and leaders. The name Rhys in some cases / areas lost its ‘rh’ to become Rees. English attempts to write the name Rhys sometimes also led to Rice, on the wrong assumption that the Welsh ‘y’ had the same sound as the English ‘y’.
Famous people with the Welsh surname Rees include:
Condoleezza Rice – A controversial African American politician.
Anneka Rice – Television presenter famous for the programme ‘Treasure Hunt’.
David James Rees (Dai Rees) – One of the Britain’s leading golfers either side of World War 2. He was the winner of many prestigious tournaments in Britain, Europe and farther afield. Rees is best remembered as the captain of the Great Britain Ryder Cup team which defeated the United States in 1957. It was the only defeat which the United States suffered in the competition between 1933 and 1985.
Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS – Martin Rees is a renowned cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010.
Rhys was a common first Welsh name in medieval times and is still a popular first and last name in Wales. It’s popularity was enhanced by many Welsh princes and leaders bearing the name and therefore became a popular surname as well. The surname Rees and Reece (see Rees) developed from Rhys, as did the surname Rice which sometimes occurred when incorrect English assumptions that the Welsh ‘y’ sound actually had the same English ‘i’ sound. Ap Rhys led to Prys, Preece and Price. Creese is also thought to derive from Rhys when the ‘ch’ in ‘ferch Rhys’ (daughter of Rhys) was abbreviated to Creese.
Famous people with the Welsh surname Rhys include:
Yr Arglwydd Rhys / Lord Rhys – Famous ruler and King of the Kingdom of Deheubarth in South Wales. He is commonly known in Welsh as Yr Arglwydd Rhys / Lord Rhys (see Griffiths).
Mathew Rhys – Actor and star of the American series Brothers and Sisters and a number of films.
Gruff Rhys – Singer / composer with the band Super Furry Animals.
Richard was a common first name imported via England to Wales by the15th century. This led to the patronymic Richards becoming a popular Welsh surname with the customary added ‘s’ but also by adopting the more traditional ap to make Ap Richard into the abbreviated Pritchard. Rhisiart became an adopted Welsh version of Richard and Richards.
Famous people with the Welsh surname Richards include:
Keith Richards – One of the world’s most renowned guitarists and rockers from the band The Rolling Stones.
Roberts became a popular Welsh surname after it first became a popular first name in Wales from the thirteenth century onwards. It’s variant Probert comes from ap Robert
Famous people with the Welsh surname Roberts include:
Julia Roberts – A renowned Hollywood actress made famous by the films ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Erin Brockovich’. Her films have collectively brought box office receipts of over $2.4 billion, making her one of the most successful actors ever in terms of box office receipts.
Bartholomew Roberts aka Barti Ddu / Black Bart – Born John Roberts, he was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off America and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, capturing far more ships than some of the best known pirates of this era such as Blackbeard or Captain Kidd. He is estimated to have captured over 470 vessels and held the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch and English crown to ransom on regular occasion. He is thought to be the first pirate to fly the Jolly Roger pirate flag which can be found in various forms such as the Skull and Crossbones flag. Black Bart should not be confused with Black Bart of the American West.
Roger and its variant Rodger became a mildly popular first name in Wales in medieval times around the 15th century, and later the customary Welsh ‘s’ was added to form the Rogers surname. The Welsh language version of Roger became Rosier and Rhosier which was later spelled and pronounced as Rosser. Prosser then developed from Ap Rosser (son of Rosser) and Prodger and Prodgers became variants of Ap Roger.
Famous people with the Welsh surname Rogers include:
Mimi Rogers – An American movie actress and competitive poker player.
Buck Rogers – Anthony Rogers is a fictional character that first appeared in Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan in August 1928. The character was later renamed Buck Rogers.
Kenny Rogers – An American singer songwriter, photographer, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. Though he has been most successful with country audiences, he has charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres and has been topping the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone.
As Roland became another fairly popular Norman first name in Wales, the preferred Welsh spelling became Rowland, then evolving into the patronymic Welsh surname Rowlands.
Famous people with the Welsh surname Rowlands include:
Gena Rowlands – Famous Hollywood actress.
Daniel Rowlands – One of the foremost leaders of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist revival along with William Williams and Howell Harris.