Select Pugh Surname Genealogy

Pugh is Welsh and derived from the Welsh patronymic ap Hugh (son of Hugh), Hugh being a male personal name that had been introduced by the Normans.  As Welsh patronymics faded in the 17th century, ap Hugh contracted to Puw and Pugh of an English-style surname.

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Select Pugh Ancestry

WalesThe Welsh patronymic ap Hugh often led to the Hughes surname.  For instance William ap Hugh in Anglesey left legacies in his will of 1665 to his son Hugh and Henry Hughes.  But the resulting surname in north Wales and in Welsh counties bordering England, could also be Puw or Pugh.

North Wales
.  The Puw family was a Catholic recusant family at Penrhyn Hall of Creuddyn in Caernarfonshire dating from the 1500’s and probably earlier.  Robert Puw, born in the mid-1500’s, was the son of Huw ap Reinallt ap Ieuan of Penrhyn Creuddyn.

“When the Earl of Pembroke began his onslaught on the Welsh Roman Catholics in 1586, Robert Puw and his family were in hiding in the Rhiwledyn cave in the Little Orme headland for three quarters of a year.  There they operated a printing press and were engaged in printing the Roman Catholic tract Y Drych Cristianogawl.”

After years of wandering Robert Puw was thrown into prison, but was allowed to return to his home at Creuddyn in 1607.  His son Philip was also Catholic, as were his many grandsons.  Fearing renewed persecution Gruffydd departed for Ireland, Herbert to France and Ifan to Spain.  Gwilym fought on the Royalist side in the Civil War, afterwards joined the Benedictine Order in France, and later settled in Monmouthshire.

Another line began with Evan Pugh, born near Aberystwyth in 1678 and the builder of the Devils Bridge over the Rheidol Gorge.  His line extended to Humphrey Pugh of Penygraig at Llanbadarn Fawr and his grandson Lewis Pugh who made a fortune after he had purchased the nearby Copa Hill copper mine in 1834.  Granny Pugh’s Journal, produced by Christopher Evans in 2003, was the journal kept by Lewis’s wife Veronica.

Mid WalesThe Pugh family at Mathafarn in Montgomeryshire dated back to the 15th century and perhaps earlier.  Rowland Pugh was a Royalist at the time of the Civil War and had his home burned down.  The male line here died out in 1752. 
One branch of the family adopted the Pughe spelling.  Richard Pughe was an apothecary at Machynlleth in the 1780’s.

The Pughs at Llanerchyol Hall near Welshpool were unrelated.  Charles Pugh built the house in 1776 and it remained in the family until 1912.  His son David was a wealthy tea trader. 

Later Pughs.  Welsh Pughs in the 1881 census were spread between North and Mid Wales, with a number also in South Wales as the Welsh population shifted southward.  Pugh concentrations were to be found at Dolgellau in Merionethshire and Bedwellty in Monmouthshire. 

EnglandThe Pugh name extended across the border into England.  The largest numbers in the 1881 census were in Shropshire.  One early line there began with the birth of John Pugh in Shrewsbury in 1616.  Walter Pugh was born at Bishop’s Castle on the Welsh border in 1767; while Thomas Pugh was born at Stottesdon near Cleobury Mortimer around 1790. 

Other Pughs living in western England at this time were: 
  • Edward Pugh from Radnorshire who married and settled down in Birley, Herefordshire in the 1740’s  
  • Joseph Pugh, born around 1774, who married Esther Wilding in Wolverhampton in 1803  
  • and John Pugh, born around 1785, who married Sarah Munslow in Worcester in 1809.
Ireland.  Pughs were in county Mayo, at Straheen and Lissadrone, possibly by the late 1600’s.  According to family lore they were Huguenots from France, originally DuPuy, who adopted the Pugh spelling.  Arthur Pugh of Lissadrone died in 1845, aged 57, without male heirs.  However, other Pughs of this family were to be found in Mayo and Sligo.

Pughs came first to Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Pennsylvania.  The early Pughs in Pennsylvania, from Merionethshire in Wales, arrived in the 1680’s and 1690’s. The most prominent of these arrivals was Ellis Pugh, a Quaker minister who came in 1688 with strong recommendations from Friends back in Wales:

"He is a man whom we dearly love and esteem and is greatly beloved by all honest, good, rational people in his neighborhood.  Though young in years he is yet grown in the truth so far that we have been wonderfully refreshed by his sweet declarations in our British tongue."

His life and ancestry were recorded in George Griffiths’ 1975 book Ellis Pugh, Quaker in Wales and Pennsylvania. 

There is a family tradition that sometime in the 1750’s Lieutenant Jonathan, son of Evan Pugh of the Welsh settlement in Pennsylvania, helped to build the first Episcopal church in Capon Valley (now part of Hampshire county in West Virginia).  There were seven male Pughs recorded at Capon in the 1790 census.  The story of this settlement was recounted in Maud Pugh’s two-volume book Capon Valley: Its Pioneers and Descendants published in 1948.

John Pugh from Capon Valley was said to have departed for North Carolina around 1760 to escape the Indian wars which were devastating the area.  It is thought that the Pughs of Burke county, Georgia were descended from him. James L. Pugh, born there in 1820, moved to Alabama when he was a little boy but lost both his parents by the time he was ten.  Nevertheless he rose to become the US Senator for Alabama, from 1880 to 1897.  His son James, who died in 1938, was a Pennsylvania court judge.

Other Pughs of this line migrated to Ohio in the early 1800’s.

Virginia.  Francis Pugh was said to have grown up in Glendower Hall in Caernarfonshire and to have come with two brothers, Thomas and Daniel, to Virginia in 1666.  His son Francis married Pheribee Savage and moved to North Carolina – first to Chowan district and then to Bertie county - before his death in 1733.

In 1818 three Pugh brothers – William, Alexander and Thomas - left Bertie county for Louisiana where they started sugar plantations.  The Madewood plantation house, now a National Historic Landmark, was the manor house for the group of plantations owned by the family in the 1830’s and 1840’s.  At the onset of the Civil War they owned 18 plantations and 1,500 slaves in the vicinity of Napoleonville. 

“The Pughs were considered leaders of their group in the whole state. They were millionaires for their day, a lot of them.  They were into sugar farming.  They had sugar houses and that's the way they made their money. There was not too much debate about slavery until perhaps just before the Civil War, because it was just an accepted fact."

And Pew?  The Pew name was not that common in either England or Wales.  It could have been a corruption of the Pugh name in America.  Or it might have had a French Huguenot DuPuy origin. 

An early citing of the name was Henry Pew who married Jane Milner in Henrico county, Virginia in 1660.  Then John Pew married Susanna Whitlock in Monmouth county, New Jersey around the year 1700; and William Pew lived in Roxbury township, New Jersey in the mid-1700’s.  His son Dan was a spy in Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War.  There were Pews also in Pennsylvania.

“On the first day of May 1797, John Pew with his wife and four children arrived on the ground where Mercer now stands and built his log cabin near the present McDonald Spring.  They came from Washington county, Pennsylvania.”

These Pews of Mercer county were the forebears of Joseph Newton Pew, the man who struck it rich in the 1880’s oil boom and founded the Sun Oil Company

.  Thomas Pugh from Wales arrived in Nova Scotia sometime in the 1840’s and settled to farm at Westport on Brier Island at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.  Pughs have remained there.

Among the early settlers in Pickering near Toronto were Hugh and Elizabeth Pugh from Radnor who arrived in 1842. Pughs are still living in the Claremont community there.  Thomas Pugh from Llanbadarn Fawr near Radnorshire came in the 1850’s.

. Hugh Pugh, a carpenter from Dolgellau, departed with his family for the Welsh colony in Patagonia in 1881.  He ran a hotel in Gaiman. 

Australia and New Zealand.
  Edward Pugh, born in Shropshire, was a First Fleeter, a convict transported to Australia on the Friendship in 1788.  He died a pauper in 1837.  Thomas Pugh, also from Shropshire, arrived with his family as assisted immigrants on the Corona in 1877.  They settled in Glen Innes, NSW where Thomas died in 1927 at the age of 86. 

William Pugh, another from Shropshire, came to New Zealand in the 1850’s, later detouring to the Victorian goldfields before returning to Picton on South Island where he and his sons were engaged in the building trade

Select Pugh Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Pugh Names

Gwilym Puw, sometimes anglicized as William Pugh, was a Welsh poet from a Catholic family and a Royalist officer during the English Civil War.  
Ellis Pugh
, the Quaker minister who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1688, had published the first Welsh book printed in America in 1721.  
James Pugh
served as the US Senator for Alabama from 1880 to 1897.  
Virginia Pugh
, better known as Tammy Wynette, was considered the first lady of country music during the height of her fame in the 1970’s.

Select Pughs Today
  • 23,000 in the UK (most numerous in Glamorgan)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania) 
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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