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Edwards Family History
This surname, with variant forms Edward, Edwardes and Edwardson, is a patronymic form of the early medieval English male given name Edward, which derives from the Olde English, pre-7th Century name "Eadward", composed of the elements "ead", prosperity or fortune, plus "w(e)ard", guard; hence, "prosperity guard". The name was very popular in England and throughout the Continent largely as a result of the fame of the two canonized kings of England, Edward the Martyr (962 - 979), and Edward the Confessor (1004 - 1066). The personal name was first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, circa 800 A.D. as "Eadweard" and variously as "Eaduuardus" and "Eduuard" in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The Edwards surname includes the variants Edward and Edwardes. It is a patronymic name in that it's derived from the name of an ancestor, and so it would mean 'the son of Edward'.
Modern diminutives of the first name Edward include, among others, Ed, Eddy, Ted, Teddy. Edward has been adapted slightly in other countries, in French as Edouard, in Scandinavian it appears as Edvard, and in Spain as Eduardo.
In Wales the Edwards surname started as a patronymic name, and would therefore refer back to an ancestor whose first name would have been 'Edward'. Patronymic names gave way to fixed, hereditary surnames in Wales between the 16th and 19th centuries.
In 1881, the surname was widespread across Wales as well as the south and west of England. The highest number of Edwards entries was recorded in Kent with 2,415 occurrences. The most common occupation for Edwards family members in 1881 was farming, labouring and coal mining.
In 1891, 82,799 individuals were recorded as having the Edwards surname in England and Wales, with a further 1,272 recorded in Scotland.
The name forms parts of some place names, such as Edwardstone in Suffolk, and Edwardstown in South Australia.
In August 1809, a William Edwards, an English convict from Kent, was transported aboard the 'Ann', settling in New South Wales, Australia.
Jonathan Edwards (1703—58), an American philosopher and preacher was well known for A Dissertation Concerning The End For Which God Created The World. Edwards disputed the claim that human happiness was the end for which God created the world. Edwards instead puts forth the concept that God did not create the world for human happiness, but to magnify his own glory and name. It was not published until after his death in 1765 along with a similar publication – The Nature of True Virtue.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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