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Jones (surname)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Language(s)Welsh, English
Meaning"son of John"
Other names
Variant form(s)MacSeoin, Joans, Johnson, Johns, Sion

Jones is a surname of Welsh and English origin meaning "son of John". The surname is common in Wales. It evolved from variations of traditionally Welsh names: Ieuan, Iowan, Ioan, Iwan, or even Siôn (note how the letter 'J' was originally being pronounced as 'i', akin to how J is pronounced in the Latin alphabet).[1][2][3] The sound generated from ‘Si-’ in Siôn is a Welsh approximation of the English ‘J’ sound that does not exist natively to the language (refer to Irish Seán), equivalent to the English ‘Sh’ such as in “shed.”

It exists as an anglicisation of these names during periods in which many Welsh were forced to change their names, ridding their patronymic names (“Ap Rhys” to “Prys” and then “Price” in English, or attaching an ‘-s’ to the end of a given name to signify an old patronym: “Owain” to “Owen” to finally “Owens”), or English speakers transliterating these names to a more conventional spelling through mishearing. They may also come from the English patronymic “Johns,” or “Johnson” (“son of John”).


Distribution of Jones surname in Great Britain and Isle of Man

The surname Jones first appears on record as a surname in England in 1273 with the name "Matilda Jones".[3] Others put the first known record of the surname Jones as 1279, in Huntingdonshire, England.[4] Around the time of the Laws in Wales Acts in the early to mid 16th century, the traditional Welsh system of patronymics was increasingly replaced by the English system of surnames, since English was the official state language and all official documents needed to be in English. This led to the Anglicisation of Welsh names, meaning that English Christian names (such as John) became increasingly common surnames to distinctively Welsh Christian first names such as Meredudd (Meredith) and Llewelyn. Thus "Mab Ioan" or "ap Sion" (and many other variations) meaning "son of John" became the surname Jones in a large number of cases, making it a very frequently used surname.[5]

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

Jones remains the most widespread surname in Wales, borne by around 200,000 people, or 5.75% of the population.[6] In England it is used by around 450,000 people, or 0.75% of the population, but still the second most popular surname, after Smith.[6] The 2000 United States census provides a frequency of 0.50%, providing an overall rank of fifth most frequent with 57.7% White, 37.7% Black, 1.4% Hispanic, 0.9% Native American.[7] Jones was the fourth most common surname in the 1990 U.S. Census, behind only Smith, Johnson and Williams.[8]


  1. ^ "Distribution of the surname Johnes in the UK". UK Surname Map.
  2. ^ Percy Hide Reaney; Richard Middlewood Wilson (1991). A Dictionary of English Surnames. Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 1784–. ISBN 978-0-415-05737-0. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Surname Database: Jones Last Name Origin". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  4. ^ Reaney, Percy Hilde (1995). Wilson, Richard Middlewood (ed.). A Dictionary of English Surnames (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 256. ISBN 0-19-863146-4.
  5. ^ Pendle, George (30 November 2015). "How 'Jones' Became One of World's Most Common Last Names". Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b McElduff, Fiona; Pablo Mateos; Angie Wade; Mario Cortina Borja (2008). "What's in a name? The frequency and geographic distributions of UK surnames". Significance. 5 (4): 189–192. doi:10.1111/j.1740-9713.2008.00332.x.
  7. ^ Word, David L.; et al. (2000). "Demographic Aspects of Surnames from Census 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-02-16. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Frequently Occurring Surnames from Census 1990". census.gov. United States Census. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

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