How common is your surname?

How common is your surname?

Surnames.  They are the first impression of your ancestors you receive.  Sometimes, they can be geographical, occupational, or patronymic.   Mine, Evans, is a derivative of a patronymic name from the given name Ifan or Evan.  Usually denoting ‘the son of’ 1.

There is a high probability that almost everybody will have a ‘common’ surname somewhere in their family tree.  My tree is full of them – particularly the Welsh branches.

The top 20 surnames in Wales are:

  1. Jones (170,633)
  2. Davies (111,559)
  3. Williams (110,404)
  4. Evans (74,243)
  5. Thomas (71,040)
  6. Roberts (46,130)
  7. Lewis (30,037)
  8. Hughes (37,076)
  9. Morgan (34,360)
  10. Griffiths (29,461)
  11. Edwards (28,165)
  12. Smith (25,660)
  13. James (24,954)
  14. Rees (24,613)
  15. Owen (21,590)
  16. Jenkins (20,328)
  17. Price (19,851)
  18. Morris (19,455)
  19. Phillips (19,105)
  20. Richards (16,284)

Source: 2

Of the top 20 surnames in Wales, I have 13 of them within 5 generations.  Frustratingly, these Welsh ancestors didn’t seem to like middle names.  Originality with forenames wasn’t one of their strong points either.  I have William Williams and Evan Evans – they have been great fun I can tell you.

I spent so much time looking for my great great grandfather, William Williams.  The break in the case came with the release of the 1939 Register which revealed his date of birth.   William was born around in February 1883 in Cymmer, near Llantrisaint, Glamorganshire.  He married Harriett Ann Weeks in 1903 in Monmouthshire.
Before 1903, William Williams was challenging to locate.  He gave his father’s name as William Williams (deceased) at the time of the marriage.  Looking for a William Williams born around 1883 whose father was also a William Williams is a nightmare.  Don’t even go down the road of him lying about his father (which he did!)

At one point, I thought I might never trace this side of the family back any further, but I did, but only because new records became available to give me the crown jewel of all information.

Now I want to know which of these common surnames did your Welsh ancestors have?

This post was originally published on 21st September 2011.  It was last updated on 26th May 2020.