Select Edwards Surname Genealogy

Edwards is a patronymic name meaning "son of Edward."  Eadweard was a Saxon name.  It appeared in the Domesday book as Eaaduardus and Eduard.  The name was in widespread use before the Norman invasion, because of two kings, Edward the Martyr and Edward the Confessor.

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Wales.   There were old Welsh families in Denbighshire in north Wales who later assumed the Edwards name.  These included the Edwards of Stansty near Wrexham which lasted until the 18th century and the Edwards of Chirkland which has lasted much longer.  As Edwardes they migrated to Pembrokeshire in the 18th century, securing by marriage in 1762 the Kensington estates in London and later a peerage. 

Also from Denbighshire,
said to be descended from Einon Efell (the Lord of Cynlleath in the 12th century), was Robert Edwards of Lledrode.  He was the son of Edward ap Thomas ap Llewellyn and, in the late 1500's, was among the first in Wales to assume Edwards as a surname.  His son John Edwards acquired the Ness Strange estate in Shropshire across the English border.

Edwards were also in south Wales.
  There were Edwards at Edwards Hall near Cardiff in Glamorgan from the 1560's to the early 1700's.   William Edwards, born in Glamorgan in 1719, was a Welsh Methodist minister who was also a bridge engineer, responsible for the building of the Old Bridge at Pontypridd.  An Edwards family has been at Talgarth in Breconshire since 1708. 

By the time of the 1891 census there were more Edwards in south Wales than in north Wales and many more in England.

Edwards started out as a surname in England possibly as early as the 13th century.  It was to be found mainly in the west country, notably in Somerset and Cornwall.
  • Richard Edwardes, the musical composer and playwright, was born in Somerset in 1523.  Also of Somerset was John Edwards who at various times was bailiff, mayor, and MP for Bridgwater in the 1560’s. 
  • one Edwards family in Cornwall began with the birth of Henry Edwards in Lelant in 1513.  Richard Edwards was recorded as marrying Grace Richards in Breage in 1728.  
The Edwards in Shropshire may have represented some spillover from Wales.  In addition to the Edwards at Ness Strange, another Welsh family from Montgomeryshire was to be found at Lydham in Shropshire by the 1550’s.  Hugh Edwards, a merchant, founded Shrewsbury School in 1551.  Humphrey Edwards from Shrewsbury was one of the regicides of Charles I in 1648; while Edward Edwards, the 18th century landscape painter, was born into an artisan family in Shrewsbury. 

America.  The first Edwards in America was probably Alexander Edwards who had come to New England from Wales around 1630.  He and his wife Sarah were among the early settlers of Northampton, Massachusetts. There followed six successive Samuel Edwards.

Richard Edwards, a merchant in Hartford, married Elizabeth Tuttle (whom he later divorced) in 1668 and it was from this “union of the sane and insane” came: 
  • the Rev. Timothy Edwards, a Congregational minister.  
  • his son Jonathan, one of the foremost theologians of his day, a leader of the revivalist “First Great Awakening Movement.”   
  • his grandson Pierpont a delegate at the Continental Congress in 1788 who, perhaps inheriting the Tuttle genes, was also “profligate, vicious, and licentious.”   
  • and his great grandson Henry who was briefly Governor of Connecticut in 1833.  Another line via his grand-daughter Esther produced Aaron Burr who famously duelled with Alexander Hamilton.  
Thomas Nathaniel Edwards, believed to have been born at Edwards Hall in Cardiff, came to America in the early 1700’s, first to Virginia and then as a merchant to Maryland.  He lived to witness the Revolutionary War when, despite his age, he was active in supporting the British troops in New York.  William Edwards, also from Wales, came to New York in the 1770's.

However, the most newsworthy Edwards in America in those colonial times was probably another Welshman - Robert Edwards, a pirate of uncertain origins.  Some say that he was born in Llanmynech on the border with Shropshire and came to New York in the 1690’s.  It does appear that he was granted a claim to real estate in Manhattan in return for the services that he had rendered in disrupting Spanish sea lines. 

In 1877, when this valuable estate in downtown Manhattan would have reverted to his heirs, many so-called descendants emerged to stake a claim.  An “Association of Edwards’ Heirs” is still around.  More than 5,000 people have said that they are descended from this Edwards. 

Caribbean.  Two Edwards brothers - Nicholas and Henry from Monmouthshire - arrived in Barbados sometime in the 1720’s.  Henry stayed there; Nicholas moved onto Antigua.  Later Edwards in Antigua owned plantations at Comfort and Coconut Hall.

  George Edwards Brown, an English sailor from London, was the founder and patriarch of the Edwards family in ChileFamily tradition has it that while his ship was at port in Chile in 1804 he fell in love with a Chilean lady and deserted his ship.  He prospered in Chile and, because of his support for its independence, was granted citizenship there in 1818. 

His Edwards descendants have played and still play a significant role in Chilean politics, especially as owners of its most influential newspaper chain, El Mercurio.

New Zealand.  There were two early John Edwards in New Zealand:  
  • the first John Edwards from Essex arrived in 1835 and was apparently a storekeeper in Waikato on North Island.  His two wives were Maori.  There is a watercolor painting of him, done in 1850, that is in the Auckland Art Gallery. 
  • the second John Edwards from Yorkshire, known as Totara Jack, arrived in Nelson on the Olympus in 1842.  He moved his family to Taita after the Wairau massacre in 1849.

Select Edwards Miscellany.

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

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Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan preacher and revivialist in 18th century colonial America.
George Edwards, an 18th century naturalist, is known as the father of English ornithology.
George Edwards was the first of the Edwards line in Chile.
Jonathan Edwards holds the world record for the triple jump.

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  • 148,000 in the UK (most numerous in Cardiff)
  • 120,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 84,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

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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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