charles

Last name origins & meanings:

  1. French, Welsh, and English: from the French form of the Germanic personal name Carl ‘man’ (which was Latinized as Carolus). In France the personal name was popular from an early date, due to the fame of the Emperor Charlemagne (?742–814; Latin name Carolus Magnus, i.e. Charles the Great). The Old French form Charles was briefly introduced to England by the Normans, but was rare during the main period of surname formation. It was introduced more successfully to Scotland in the 16th century by the Stuarts, who had strong ties with France, and was brought by them to England in the 17th century. Its frequency as a Welsh surname is attributable to the late date of Welsh surname formation. Old English Ceorl ‘peasant’ is also found as a byname, but the resulting Middle English form, Charl, with a patronymic in -s, if it existed at all, would have been absorbed by the French form introduced by the Normans. Compare Carl. English variants pronounced with initial k- for the most part reflect the cognate Old Norse personal name Karl, Karli.
  2. Swedish: ornamental form of a Frenchified form of the Old Norse personal name Karl.
  3. This name was brought independently to North America from England by numerous different bearers from the 17th century onward. John Charles was one of the free planters who assented to the ‘Fundamental Agreement’ of the New Haven Colony on June 4, 1639.
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