Williams Name Meaning and Origin

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The common Welsh patronymic last name Williams has several possible origins:

  1. Son or descendant of Guillemin, a pet form of Guillaume, the French form of William.
  2. From the Belgic guild-helm, meaning "harnessed with a gilded helmet" or welhelm, "the shield or defense of many."
  3. Derived from the given name "William," an Old French given name with Germanic elements: wil = "desire, will" and helm = "helmet, protection."

In Wales, adding an "s" to the end of a surname denotes "son of," pointing to Wales as the origin of many people with the Williams surname. The Williams surname is also popular in countries such as England, Scotland and Germany. Williams is the third most popular surname in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.

Williams Name Origin: English, Welsh


Fun Facts About the Williams Surname

The last man killed in the U.S. Civil War was Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was killed in the battle of Palmetto Ranch, Texas, on May 13, 1865, a month after Lee's surrender.

Famous People with the Surname Williams?

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Williams

100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their Meanings
Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census?

Common English Surnames & Their Meanings
Williams is the 3rd most popular surname in Great Britain.

Most Common Australian Surnames & Their Meanings
Williams is 3rd on this list of the most commonly occurring surnames in Australia, which includes details on each name's origin and meaning.

Williams Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Williams family crest or coat of arms for the Williams surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

Williams DNA Project
The Williams DNA project has over 535 participants making it the 2nd largest surname DNA project in the world. The Web site includes Williams records from around the world as well.

Descendants of William Williams
A genealogy of the descendants of William Williams (1778-1857) from Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

FamilySearch - Williams Genealogy
Explore over 29 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Williams surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website, hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Williams Surname & Family Mailing Lists
RootsWeb hosts a free mailing list for researchers of the Taft surname. Post a query about your own Taft ancestors, or search or browse the mailing list archives.

DistantCousin.com - Williams Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name Williams.


Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005.

Beider, Alexander. "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia." Avotaynu, 2004.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.