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Philips and Origins in Philip of Macedon

Early Usage in Wales

Excerpted from The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $200 by ordering through us.) By Oliver S. Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Get an updated index here.).

Phelps is commonly thought to be derived from Philips. There are over one hundred spelling variations, including common forms like Phelps, Phillipus, Philip, and Phipps.The name may be a surname of Greek origins and originates from the Ancient Greek Philippos, a compound of the words philein meaning to love and hippos, a horse; and hence lover of horses.

Philip I of Macedon, the grandfather of Alexander the Great, is the earliest famous bearer of the name. The name was borne by five kings of France, including Philip 1st, who reigned from 1060 to 1108. It entered England via France in the 12th Century. Philips with the 's' indicates a patronymic, meaning the "son of Philip".

The surname Philips quickly migrated into Wales and became very numerous in late 13th Century as Phelip, the spelling which led to Phe: being a standard abbreviation in early records. By 15th Century it was found in small numbers in several parts of Wales, but was concentrated in the southern areas, especially Gwent & Morgannwg, where about 3% of families bore the surname. It averaged about 1% for all Wales, and as a result of modern patronymic surname usage (i.e., passed from father to children) became relatively common.