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Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English (of Welsh origin): Anglicized form of Welsh ap Hywel ‘son of Hywel’, a personal name meaning ‘eminent’ (see Howell).
  2. Irish: mainly of Welsh origin as in 1 above, but sometimes a surname adopted as equivalent of Gaelic Mac Giolla Phóil ‘son of the servant of St. Paul’ (see Guilfoyle).
  3. This surname is extremely common in Wales and has also spread throughout England and Ireland. The first recorded occurrence of the surname in its modern form is Roger ap Howell, alias Powell, named in a lawsuit in 1563. He was the grandson of Howell ap John (d. 1535). Snelling Powell, born in Carmarthen, Wales, in 1758, came to America in 1793 and was a successful actor and theater manager in Boston. Later members of the family include the novelist Anthony Powell (b. 1905).

Famous people with this first name: Colin Powell

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