Select Lewis Surname Genealogy

There appears to be both an English and Norman French origin for the surname Lewis.  The Old English leofwine, meaning "beloved friend," was one source.  Lodovicus was the founder of the Frankish dynasty and his name came over to England with the Normans.  Over time these names became Lewis.   In Wales Lewis could have derived from Llewelyn.

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Wales.  The English name Lewis would intertwine with the Welsh Llewelyn, often absorbing it as anglicization proceeded.  Thus the 15th century Welsh bard was sometimes called Llewellyn Glyn and sometimes Lewis Glyn.

Thomas ap Lewis was killed at the battle of Banbury in 1469 and his son, a landowner in Monmouthshire, was the first to adopt Lewis as a surname.

There was an old Lewis line in Breconshire and Monmouthshire which DNA testing has linked to Rhys Goch, the lord of Ystrad in Breconshire in the 11th century.  John Lewis, born in 1594, was the son of Lewis Prichard and this John was the father of emigrant John Lewis.  His gravestone in Virginia read:

“Here lieth interred the body of John Lewis.  Born in Monmouthshire, he died the 21st of August 1657 aged 63 years.  The anagram of his name is ‘I shew no ill.’”

The Lewis family of Van in Glamorgan took the Lewis name in the 1540's when Edward ap Lewis became Edward Lewis.  Thomas Lewis, who died in 1736, was the last Lewis of Van.  Richard Lewis, thought to have been a descendant, emigrated to Ireland in the 1850’s.  His grandson, born in Belfast, was the writer C.S. Lewis.

The Lewis name is common today in Glamorgan and elsewhere in south Wales.  William Lewis, born in Merthyr Tydfil, was a 19th century coal mining magnate.

England.  The English Lewises have tended to be in the west country and the counties bordering Wales. One Lewis family which came to England in 1685 were Huguenots fleeing France who had changed their name from Louis to Lewis. 

Lewis later was an anglicized name for Jewish immigrants in London.  Prominent among these Lewises were:
  • John Lewis who founded the John Lewis department store in London in 1864
  • Ted "Kid" Lewis, the world welterweight boxing champion in 1915
  • and Bernard Lewis, the distinguished Middle East historian.
America.  John Lewis came to Virginia from Monmouthshire in 1653, although it is often his son “Councillor” John Lewis who is considered the progenitor of the family.  He was one of the richest man in Virginia of his time.  He inherited Warner Hall in Gloucester county after his marriage to Elizabeth Warner and the home stayed with the Lewis family until 1934.

Meriwether Lewis, he of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific, was related to these Lewises through the youngest son Robert Lewis of Belvoir.  He was buried in what is now Lewis county, Tennessee where a monument was erected to his memory in 1848.

A line from Robert of Belvoir also went to Kentucky with Daniel Boone and later, through Daniel Lewis, was to be found in Alabama and Missouri.  A family reunion of descendants was held in Franklin county, Missouri in 1957.

Another John Lewis, this time from Ireland and of probable French Huguenot roots, arrived in Virginia in 1728.  He was described as “tall and of great muscular strength and one of the best backwoodsmen of his day.” 
This Lewis family, pioneers in western Virginia, ran the Lynnwood plantation.

Other Lewises from Wales whose descendants achieved prominence in America were:
  • Francis Lewis from Glamorgan who arrived in New York in 1734 and was an early figure in New York business.  His son Morgan Lewis became Governor of New York in 1804.
  • and Nathan Lewis who came to Baltimore in the early 1760’s and later moved to North Carolina.  His son Washington Lewis moved to Alabama and a later Lewis, David, was Governor of Alabama in 1872.
Canada.  John and Elizabeth Lewis from SW Scotland departed for Canada a second time in 1844, having previously departed and returned, and made their home on St. Peter’s Bay in Prince Edward Island.  Many Lewises were buried at the Catholic church in St. Peter’s.  Another John Lewis, this time from Pembrokeshire in Wales, emigrated to Canada in 1891, settling with his family in Victoria, British Columbia.  He was a cabinet maker by trade. 

Moishe Losz became Morris Lewis on his arrival in Canada in 1921.  A Jewish labor activist in Poland, he continued this work in Canada, something which has been followed on in their different ways by his son David, grandson Stephen, and great grandson Avi.

.  James Lewis came to South Australia from Wales in the Rapid in 1838.  He ended up farming just outside Adelaide.  His son John had a wandering life, first in the Northern Territory and then in the Victoria goldfields, before returning to South Australia in 1876.  John’s son Essington ascended the ranks of the mining company BHP as its Managing Director from 1926 and its Chairman from 1950.

Select Lewis Miscellany

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

Select Lewis Names

Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition made the first overland trip across America to the Pacific coast.
Isaac Lewis was the American inventor of the Lewis gun which saw service during the First World War.
John L. Lewis was the labor leader for the miner workers in America in the 1930's and helped found the CIO (Council of Industrial Organizations).
C.S. Lewis was the Christian writer and scholar, best known today for The Chronicles of Narnia.
Carl Lewis was an American record-breaking sprinter.
Bernard Lewis is a distinguished Middle East historian.
Daniel Day Lewis is an Academy Award winning actor, the son of the Anglo-Irish poet Cecil Day Lewis.
Lennox Lewis was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1999 to 2003.

Select Lewis Today

  • 198,000 in the UK (most numerous in West Midlands)
  • 185,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 69,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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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