Origins of the surname Powell

This interesting name has two possible origins, the first and most generally applicable to modern-day bearers of the name being from the early medieval Welsh patronymic form of the personal name "Hywel". In Welsh this was rendered as "ap-Howell" or "Hywel", meaning "son of Hywel", a male personal name popular since the Middle Ages in honour of the great 10th Century law-giving Welsh King. In time the two elements contracted to produce the name "Powell", which is first recorded in its modern form as Roger ap Howell, alias Powell, named in a lawsuit in 1563. The second possible origin of the surname is English and derives from a patronymic form of the given name Paul, meaning "small", from the Latin "paulus", and found in Langlands's "Piers Plowman" in 1367 as "Powel". One James Powell embarked in the "Thomas and John" for Virginia in June 1635, at 12 yrs. of age being one of the youngest emigrants recorded. There are twenty-seven "Powell" entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography". These include Professor Baden-Powell (1796 - 1860), whose son was Sir George Baden-Powell, M.P. (1847 - 1898) who in turn was the father of Col. Robert (later Lord) Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout and Guide Movement. Col. Baden-Powell defended Mafeking against the Boers in 1900 for 217 days, using "Boy" Scouts as his communication runners. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip ap Howel which was dated 1285, in the "Radnorshire Charter Rolls", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling. -- www.surnamedb.com

This page belongs to the Eucalypt Family History collection, maintained by Ryk Field. Reach me by email to: rykfield@gmail.com