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Williams: Family Name, Meaning, History, And More

Happy multi-generation family walking in the countryside

Williams: Family Name, Meaning, History, And More

A family name can tell you all the history of previous generations. You can learn so much about yourself and your family from your last name. For instance, if your last name is Williams, your family likely originated in Great Britain. Today, we're going to take a look at the Williams family name, its meaning, history, and more fun facts for you to learn about your lineage.

Panoramic of suntset at Three Cliffs in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales, UK. Taken May 2018
 Wales is known for having mountainous National Parks, a rugged coastline, and some of the most beautiful beaches.

©Drew Davies Photography/Shutterstock.com


Although it is believed to have several origins, because the name ends with an “s,” it is believed to originate from Wales, which adds “s” to surnames to indicate the meaning “son of.” The Williams family began their journey out of England and Wales in the 17th century. Between 1840 and 1920, the Williams family name was found in Scotland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. In the U.S., the Williams Family was found mostly in the Midwest and the East Coast in 1840. Just 40 years later, they had spread all the way across the country.

There are many of the Williams family today who live in New Zealand, Wales, Australia, and the United States. This surname is the second most common in New Zealand, third most common in the United States and Wales, and fourth most common in Australia.


The name Williams means to protect. This is derived from breaking it down and looking at its origins and their meaning. The first part of the name, “Will,” means desire, and the second part, “helm,” means to shield or protect. So, the Williams name is a very strong name!

Multi-generation family having fun together outdoors
You can learn a lot about your ancestry and connect with family members through DNA testing.

©Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

Interesting Facts

In the United States during the 1940s, your Williams ancestors were most likely a maid or a laborer. These two occupations were the most common among the family names. In Canada during the 1920s, your Williams ancestors were most likely farmers or housekeepers. In England, in the 1930s, your Williams ancestors were most likely general laborers or unpaid domestic duty workers.

Famous People With The Name Williams

  • Robin Williams – American actor and comedian
  • John Williams – Oscar-winning American composer
  • Venus Williams – Professional tennis player, American children's writer
  • Serena Williams – Professional tennis player
  • Maisie Williams – English actress and dancer
  • Michelle Williams – American Actress
  • Paul Williams – American singer, composer, songwriter, actor
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