Select Hughes Surname Genealogy

Hughes is a patronymic surname from the Anglo-Norman Hugo which developed in the vernacular as Hue and Hugh.  St. Hugh of Lincoln established the first Carthusian monastery in England in the 12th century. 

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Wales.  The name became prevalent in Wales, being first found there in Carmarthenshire.  This may seem surprising as Hugh was Anglo-Norman in origin rather than Welsh.  But Hugh (and subsequently Hughes) became a Welsh name simply because it bore a resemblance to the common Welsh name of Hywel or Howell. Hughes gradually replaced Hywel in the 15th and 16th centuries.

North Wales.  The Hughes name in Wales today is  mainly to be found in north Wales, in present day Clwyd and Gwynedd. Among early Hughes in this area were:
  • Daffyd Llwyd ap Hugh, who set up his family home at Plas Coch in Anglesey in the 16th century.  A descendant William Bulkeley Hughes was instrumental in developing Llandudno as a holiday resort in the 19th century.
  • David Hughes, a native of Beaumaris in Anglesey, who funded the free Grammar School there in 1603.
  • the Rev. William Hughes who became Bishop of St. Asaph in Flintshire in 1573.  A descendant the Rev. Edward Hughes bought the Kinmel estates in Flintshire in the 1780's.  He had owned land on Parys mountain in Anglesey where copper was discovered and had grown rich on its proceeds.
  • and John ap Hugh, a Quaker from Merionethshire, who emigrated to Pennsylvania on the Robert and Elizabeth in 1698.  His descendants there became Hughes.
William ap Huw was born in Flintshire around 1570 and his descendants, who held land at Llewerllyd, became Hughes.  They apparently had to fight for the right to a seat and burial plot at their local church at Dyserth. But their family tomb is there and can be seen beneath a gnarled yew tree.

A 17th century Hughes line from Gelle Faulor in Flintshire descended to the Rev. Thomas Hughes, headmaster of Ruthin School in Denbighshire, and to:
  • five generations of Hughes who were vicars of Uffington in Berkshire over the course of the 18th century.  The last of them, Thomas Hughes, was canon at St. Paul’s Cathedral. 
  • and to Thomas's grandson Thomas Hughes, famous for his book about Rugby school, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, which came out in 1857.     
England.  There have been Hughes recorded across the border, in Cheshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire.

One notable Hughes family was involved in the papermaking industry from the 1760's in the Manchester and Bolton area.  Michael Hughes was a successful industrialist in St. Helens who became a major landowner in Sutton.  Some of the English Hughes had originally come from Wales.  Quentin Hughes who did much to preserve Liverpool's Victorian architectural heritage had Welsh parents.

Hughes came to Ireland from Wales; or it can also be Irish - from the Gaelic O'Haodha, meaning "fire."  The name crops up principally in Armagh (where it is the second most common surname), but is also in Fermanagh and Tyrone.

A Welsh Hughes family came over with Cromwell in 1649 and settled first in Monaghan and then in Tyrone.  Hughes from this family emigrated to Tennessee and Canada in the early 1800’s.

Hughes began to arrive in America around the year 1700, into Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Virginia.  There were Hughes in Virginia by 1700, reportedly from Wales.  One old account talks of a Trader Hughes who established a trading post with his Indian wife on the north side of the James river.   Another line was in Powhatan county.  Jesse Hughes, whose father had been killed by Indians in 1778, later became one of the most famous frontier scouts of his time. 

William Hughes, born of uncertain origins in Virginia around 1780, was the forebear of Howard Hughes senior, who made his fortune in oil drilling equipment, and of his more famous son Howard Hughes junior, the aviator pioneer and film producer

Pennsylvania.  John Hughes, formerly John ap Hugh, was the forebear of the Quaker Hughes in Berks county.  His son Ellis moved from Gwynedd to Olney in 1731 and was a leader at the Exeter Meeting.  Ellis’s son John married Daniel Boone’s daughter Hannah in 1742 and they had two children before Hannah died at the age of 27. 

Another Ellis Hughes of this family, a public surveyor, was among the first settlers of the Catawissa area in Columbia county in the 1770’s.  William Hughes, his cousin, laid out the township in 1786 and Job Hughes, his brother, was a Quaker minister there. 

Other Hughes from Merionethshire came to Montgomery county, Pennsylvania where they established their home, Walnut Grove, in the early 1700’s.  John Hughes of this family was appointed the stamp officer for Pennsylvania by Benjamin Franklin in 1765.  Isaac Hughes was in residence at Walnut Grove during the Revolutionary War and General Washington visited him frequently there during his time at Valley Forge.

IrishThomas Hughes, from a wealthy Irish family in Donegal, came to Virginia in 1739 because of religious problems.  His family became large landowners, first in Virginia and then in Pennsylvania, retaining the house servants that they had brought with them from Ireland.  Later Hughes migrated west to Indiana and Ohio.  Thomas Hughes’s 1880 book Memoirs of My Family described their line. 

John Hughes from a Hughes sept in Tyrone emigrated to America in 1817.   He became a Catholic priest there and was regarded as “the best known if not exactly the best loved Catholic bishop in the country.”  He was the first Archbishop of New York and founder of Fordham University

  In 1804 Job Hughes, the Quaker minister at Catawissa, moved to the new Quaker settlement at Newmarket in Ontario.  His son Samuel became a president of Canada’s first farm cooperative, the Farmers’ Storehouse Compant, and was a reform politician. 

Sam Hughes, the Canadian munitions minister in World War One, had Irish blood in him.  His father John Hughes worked at Tyrone, Ontario and then at Solina nearby, which was where Sam was born.

.  Billy Hughes, born and raised in London, was the son of Welsh-speaking parents.  He came to Australia in 1884 at the age of 22 and involved himself in politics, first with the Socialist League and then with the newly-formed Labor party.  He was Labor Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923 and proved to be an effective and popular war leader.

Select Hughes Miscellany

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

Select Hughes Names

Thomas Hughes was the Victorian author of Tom Brown's Schooldays.
Billy Hughes, of Welsh parentage, was Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923.
Charles Hughes, a Republican politician from New York, was the Chief Justice of the United States from 1930 to 1941.
Langston Hughes was an African American poet who flourished during the Harlem Renaissance.
Howard Hughes was an American aviator, industrialist, and film maker.  He was one of the wealthiest men of the world in the 1930's but ended his life as a recluse.
Ted Hughes was the English Poet Laureate from 1984 to 1998.

Select Hughes Today

  • 148,000 in the UK (most numerous in Gwynedd)
  • 90,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 69,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

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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