Return to Chief Oglesby's Reservation

History Of The Pugh Family Surname

The surname Pugh is one of the oldest Welsh names. Before the Norman Conquest, Britain inhabited by many different ethnic groups, but perhaps the oldest of which is the Welsh race, a race which settled in the snow-capped mountains and peaceful valleys of Wales.

The Romans vacated the Isles, and the Welsh, or the ancient Britons, was left in sole possession of all of England and lowland Scotland. Their most distinguished leaders were Ambrosious, and later in the 5th century, King Arthur of the Round Table. The first recorded King of Wales was Rhodri Mawr, or Roderick the Great. He died in 893. On his death he bequeathed Wales to his three sons, Anarawd became King of North Wales, Cadalh became King of South Wales and Mervyn became King of Powys, or mid Wales.

The history of the name Pugh began midst the prosaic fabric of the ancient Welsh chronicles and was first found in Montgomeryshire where they were seated from very ancient tines, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Researchers examined early manuscripts such as the Doomsday Book, the Pipe Rolls, Hearth Rolls, the Black Book of the Exchequer, the Curia Regis Rolls, and your family name Pugh with many different spellings. Although your name, Pugh, occurred in many references, from tine to time the surname was spelt Pugh, Pew, and many of these are still in use today. These changes in spelling frequent occurred even between father and son and it was not uncommon for a person to be born with one spelling marry with another, and still have another on the headstone in his or her resting place. Scribes and church officials frequently chose their own version of what the correct spelling should be, and recorded it so.

In confirming their descent from the Welsh race, the Pugh surname can be traced back to ancient times. The Welsh faced the Saxons, and then the Normans along the Welsh Marshes, defending Wales with a string of castles, each not more than one day's march from one another, stretching from the River Dee in the north to the Sea of Severn in the south. A testimony to the indomitable Welsh fighting spirit is that there are more castles or ruins of castles, to the square mile in Wales than anywhere else in the world.

Border warfare against the Normans and their successors continued unabated until the end of the 14th century. The Welsh tactic was to thrust, then retire to their bleak mountain homes to plan their next attack Meanwhile, by the 15th and 16th centuries, England ravaged by plagues and famines lost as much as 70% of their working population of peasants. The Welsh, attracted by the economic opportunities, moved eastward into the English cities. Seemingly not affected by the plagues they multiplied amongst the sparse population of England.

Despite the spartan life, the family name Pugh emerged as a notable Welsh family name in Montgomery where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Llanerchydol with manor and estates in that shire. The AP Hugh or Pughs were descended from the great Welsh Chieftain, Cadwallader AP Jevaf, King of Wales who died in 984. By the 14th century they had branched to Carmarthen at Manor Avon and Llandilo, and at Ty Gwyn in that shire. They became a Welsh border family and gradually moved into England. Notable amongst the family during the late middle ages was Pugh of Montgomery.

For the next two or three centuries the surname Pugh flourished and played an important roll in local county politics and in the affairs of Britain in general.

During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious conflict. Henry the VIII started the great schism between the Roman Church and the English State. Continuing, the newly found passionate fervour of Cromwellianism, the newly created Protestantism of the Church rejected all nonbelievers. And the Roman Church still fought to regain the status and rights. The power of the Church, and the Crown, their assessments, tithes, and demands on rich and poor alike broke the spirit of men and man7y turned from religion entirely, or renewed their faith, pursuing with a vigor and ferocity, the letter of the ecclesiastical law. Many became pirates who roamed the West Indies.

Some were shipped to Ireland where they were known as the Adventurers for land. Essentially, they contracted to maintain and develop the Protestant faith, being granted lands previously owned by the Catholic Irish. There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country.

The New World beckoned the more adventurous. Some of the disillusioned sailed voluntarily from Ireland, but most sailed directly from Wales or England, their home territories. Some even moved to the European continent.

They sailed to the New World across the stormy Atlantic aboard the tiny sailing ships which were to become known as the "White Sails". These overcrowded ships, designed for 100 but frequently crammed with 400 and 500 passengers, spent two months at sea, were wracked with disease, sometimes landing with only 60 to 70% of the original passenger list.

In North America one of the first migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the Pugh family or having a variation of the family surname spelling, was James Pugh settled in Virginia in 1654; Anne Pugh settled with her husband in in Virginia in 1701; Mary and Sarah Pugh arrived in Virginia in 1741; David Pugh arrived in Virginia in 1608, twelve years before the "Mayflower".

There are many notable contemporaries of this name, Sir Idwal Pugh, British Department of the Environment; Ralph Pugh, Historian; William Pugh, British Company Director; General Lewis Pugh.

Research has determined the above Coat of Arms to be the most ancient recorded for the family surname Pugh.