The origins of the last name “Jones” can be traced back to the United Kingdom and more specifically, the countries of England and Wales. The Jones surname (last name) is derived from the English given name of “John” or the Welsh names “Sion” or “Ieuan”.
The surname “Jones” is often times thought to have originated in Wales, but the earliest documented mention of “Jones” is actually found in 13th century records for England. 1
In Wales, the use of surnames (like “Jones”) did not really begin until about the 16th century. This is when the Welsh first adopted the use of surnames as a naming convention. 2. Up until that point, only the first name was used when referring to someone.
Similar to England at an earlier time – in Wales the “Jones” surname was likely derived from a father’s first name of “John”, “Sion” or “Ieuen” through a naming convention called Patronymics. Patronymics was a common method for naming offspring in England, Wales and many other locations around the world. Our article titled Jones Patronymics provides an in depth explanation of how the Jones surname was derived from a father’s first name through the use of the patronymics naming convention.
In 16th and 17th century Wales, patronymics began to fall out of favor as an accepted naming convention. It was around this time that Welsh families began using a permanent last name, much like the English had done centuries earlier. The surname “Jones” was a name that many, many Welsh families settled upon. This is why it is the most popular last name in Wales, although it was first found in England.
Not all Jones families will be able to trace their roots back to Wales or the United Kingdom. There are many Jones families of non-Welsh or English descent that adopted the last name of Jones for a variety of reasons. Our article titled Name Derivation goes into some of the reasons for this.
If you are a Jones of African descent, it’s possible that at one point, your ancestors may have been given a surname like Jones or added the Jones last name to their given name. There are many reasons that this could have occurred. Some are outlined in our article titled Name Derivations. Other possible reasons are mentioned in the article, The Welsh and Slavery in America.
If you are really interested in exploring African-American family genealogy, one of the best family history authors focused on this area is Tony Burroughs. He has written a great book titled Black Roots: A Beginners Guide To Tracing The African American Family Tree.