Select Davis/Davies Surname Genealogy

Davis and Davies are both patronymic names meaning "son of David."  Davies has been particularly popular in Wales as St. David is its patron saint.  David is spelt Daffydd in Welsh and means well-beloved.

Davies - because of the Welsh influence - predominates over Davis in the UK today, by around three to one.  But in America it is the other way round.  There are twenty times more Davis than Davies.

Select Davis/Davies Resources on The Internet

England.  Davis first emerged as a surname in the early 14th century.  A Richard Davys was recorded as a freeman of York in 1402.  Davys was initially the more common spelling.  It was found mainly in the west country.

Davies meanwhile developed as a spelling in Cornwall and in the border counties with Wales where the Welsh influence and language was strong.  The Davies family of Chisgrove near Tisbury in Wiltshire came about because of a Welshman settling there in the early 1500’s.

But Davis became the main spelling in England.  One Davis family traces itself back to John Davys or Davis of Acton Turville in Gloucestershire in the early 1500’s.  William Davies, known as the “Golden Farmer,” was a famous Gloucestershire highwayman until he was finally captured and executed in 1690.  Today the main concentrations of the Davis name are in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.

  An early spelling was Daffydd, such as the Glamorgan bard Meurig Daffydd of the early 16th century.  This spelling did persist in some areas until the 18th century.

The early Davies sightings were mainly in north Wales:
  • the Davies family of Gwysaney in Flintshire claimed an ancient pedigree.  John ap Davydd was the first in his family to adopt the Davies name sometime in the mid-1500's.  Their family base at Llanerch Park stayed with them into the late 18th century.
  • William Davies from Denbighshire who was a Catholic priest executed for his beliefs in 1593. 
  • and Dr. John Davies, the rector at Mallwyd in Merionethshire in the early 1600's, who was one of the leading Welsh scholars of his day.
The Davies population - as with much of the Welsh population - moved south during the 19th century and is now more to be found in Glamorgan and surrounding counties.

David Davies, born in humble circumstances at Llandinam in Montgomeryshire, became a coal magnate and was an important figure in the industrialization of the Rhondda valley in south Wales in the late 19th century.

  James Davis from Acton Turville in Gloucestershire was one of the founders of the town of Haverhill in Massachusetts in 1646.

Other early Davis arrivals were:
  • Thomas Davis, who came in 1635 from Gloucestershire and settled in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  These Davises moved to Stafford, Connecticut, where Deacon Daniel Davis was a prominent citizen of the community in the early 19th century, and later to Ohio.
  • Dolar Davis who arrived from Kent around the same time and settled in Cambridge.  His descendants were later to be found in Northboro and included John Davis, the Massachusetts Governor and Senator in the 1830’s and 1840’s.
  • Colonel John Davis, resident in Derby, New Haven in 1690 and the forebear of Davis Loyalists who departed for Nova Scotia after the War.  Descendants are still to be found in Yarmouth.
  • and Thomas Davis, who arrived in Maryland sometime in the 1690's and was the forebear of the Davis in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
Evan Davis came to Philadelphia from Wales in the 1720's.  His grandson, born in Kentucky in 1808, was the famous Confederate leader Jefferson Davis.

“Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans in 1889 at the age of eighty one.  His funeral was one of the largest ever staged in the South and ran a continuous march day and night from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia where he was buried.”

Another Welsh line in Pennsylvania began with Morgan Davis from Glamorgan who was in the Merion township as early as 1685.  Jenkin Davis from Cardigan came to Radnor township in 1720.  A branch of this family, which still holds annual reunions, moved to Maryland around 1800.  There was also a Davis family in North Providence, Pennsylvania by the late 1700's.

Welsh Davies invariably became Davis in America, like the Evan Davis above; while some later Davis arrivals also came from Ireland.

Canada.  John Davis had come to New Haven, Connecticut sometime around 1680.  But his Loyalist descendant Ethel Davis left there for Nova Scotia in 1783.  He settled on Brier Island where Ethel’s grandson Samuel saved shipwrecked men by believing in his “vision of the night.”  Samuel’s two sons Ralph and Oscar established at Yarmouth in 1897 the paper and printing company R.H. Davis & Co. which still operates. 

Other Davis Loyalists who came to Canada at this time were: 
  • Thomas and John Davis from a North Carolina plantation who reached Canada in 1790 and settled in Wentworth county, Ontario.   
  • and Lewis Davis from a Welsh family who crossed over from New York state to Hastings county, Ontario around 1802.
Australia.  Davis from Ireland came to Australia.  The first was probably William Davis, known as the Wexford Pikemaker, who got caught up in the 1798 Irish Rebellion and was captured and transported to Australia.  He emerged from captivity to grow wealthy and to be a pillar of the Irish Catholic community in Sydney.  John Davis joined him from Ireland in 1841.  Other relatives from his hometown of Parsontown came out in 1855.

William Davis had left Kent with his family for South Australia on the Babboo in 1848.  Born in 1795, he was a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, having had half of his left foot shot off by a cannonball and having survived a bayonet thrust to the chest.  Nevertheless, according to family lore, he had been married three times and fathered 22 children.  He lived to be 92

.  The Davis family was one of the original African American families of Sierra Leone (which the British had created as a haven for freed slaves in 1787).  Their family patriarch was Anthony Davis, a 29 year old freed slave from Delaware.  His Davis descendants were also to be found in Nigeria

Select Davis/Davies Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Davis/Davies Names

John Davies
of Hereford, a contemporary of Shakespeare, was a writing master and a notable Anglo-Welsh poet of his time.
Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
David Davies was a coal magnate and an important figure in the industrialization of the Rhondda valley in south Wales in the late 19th century.
Bette Davis was the acclaimed American actress in the 1930's and 1940's.
Sammy Davis Jr was a popular dancer, singer, and entertainer, one of the 1960's Rat Pack.
Robertson Davies
was one of Canada's most well-known and popular novelists.
Miles Davis, a trumpeter, is one of the great names of jazz.

Select Davis/Davies Today

  • 317,000 in the UK (most numerous in Cardiff)
  • 398,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 133,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
Davies is the #6 ranked surname in the UK, Davis the #7 ranked surname in America.

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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