Phelps Family Crest

Phelps Family Crest

Phelps Family Crest / Phelps Coat of Arms

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Where did the Welsh Phelps family come from? What is the Welsh coat of arms/family crest? When did the Phelps family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the history of the family name?

The Phelps surname was derived from the personal names Phelp or Philp, which were pet-forms of the personal name Philip. This name, usually Latinized as Philippus, was originally derived from the Greek name Philippos. This Greek name was composed of the words “philein,” which means “to love,” and “hippos,” which means “horse.” The personal name Philip owed its popularity to the medieval romances about Alexander the Great, whose father was Philip of Macedon.

Although there are not an extremely large number Welsh surnames, there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations of those surnames. This variety of spellings began almost immediately after the acceptance of surnames within Welsh society. In the early Middle Ages, the great majority of Welsh people were illiterate, therefore it was up to priests and the very few other literate individuals that kept official records to determine how to spell the names that they heard. As time progressed, these old Brythonic names were eventually were recorded in English. This process was problematic in that many of the highly inflected sounds of the native language of Wales could not be properly captured in English. Some families, however, did decide to modify their own names to indicate a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even a patriotic affiliation. The name Phelps has seen various spelling variations: Phelps, Phellps, Phelpe, Phelpes, Phelphes and others.

First found in Monmouthshire (Welsh: Sir Fynwy), anciently the Kingdom of Gwent, a much disputed border region of Southeast Wales, and English county from 1536-1974, where they were seated from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

The Welsh migration to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries contributed greatly to its rapid development. These migrants were in search of land, work, and freedom. Those Welsh families that survived the long ocean journey were critical to the development of new industries and factories, and to the quick settlement of land. They also added to an ever-growing rich cultural heritage. A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Phelps: Grace, John and Richard Phellps, who all settled in Barbados in 1663; George, Richard, Nathaniel, Sarah, Samuel and William Phelps, who all settled in Nantucket, Masachussetts in 1630.

Motto Translated: Always ready.

For more information on the last name Phelps, the PDF Surname History is available for purchase as well as other products.

Suggested Readings for the name Phelps

    * Phelps Family from Z to A by William Herald Swango.
    * Phelps-Marshall Kinship by Nancy G. McBride.
Some noteworthy people of the name Phelps

    * Edward John Phelps (1822-1900), American diplomat, and lawyer, who was the ambassador to Britain (1885-1889)
    * William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943), American, literary critic
    * Jaycie Phelps, American gymnast
    * Samuel Phelps (1804-1878), English stage actor and manager
    * Private Wesley Phelps, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944