Explore the Family Name Powell

The meaning of Powell

1. Welsh: 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 Saint Paul’ (see Guilfoyle). 3. English: variant of Paul or Poole. History: 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 (died 1535). Snelling Powell, born in Carmarthen, Wales, in 1758, came to North America in 1793 and was a successful actor and theater manager in Boston. Later members of the family include the English novelist Anthony Powell (1905–2000).

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Powell in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the surname Powell saw a slight decrease in popularity from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, it was listed as the 91st most common surname but declined by approximately 11 percent to the 101st position in 2010. However, the number of individuals bearing the name increased by about 3.84 percent from 216,553 to 224,874 over the same period. This suggests that while the rank might have dropped, the total count of people with the surname Powell has indeed grown, albeit at a lower rate than other surnames.

Proportion per 100k80.2876.23-5.04%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Powell

The Decennial U.S. Census data also provides insights into the ethnic identity associated with the surname Powell. The majority of individuals with this surname identified as White in both 2000 and 2010, although this proportion decreased slightly by nearly 4 percent over the decade. African Americans with the Powell surname saw a small increase, making up 27.12 percent of the total in 2010 compared to 25.97 percent in 2000. The census data also indicates notable increases in the Hispanic (63.83 percent) and those identifying with two or more races (33.92 percent) categories. Meanwhile, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian and Alaskan Native categories also experienced growth, but these communities represent smaller proportions of individuals with the Powell surname.

Two or More Races1.71%2.29%33.92%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.56%0.62%10.71%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.38%0.46%21.05%

Powell ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Powell is British & Irish, which comprises 54.3% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (21.2%) and Nigerian (4.0%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Scandinavian, Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean, Italian, and Spanish & Portuguese.

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British & Irish54.3%
French & German21.2%

Possible origins of the surname Powell

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Powell have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom85.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom85.30%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom84.90%
Merseyside, United Kingdom84.80%
West Midlands, United Kingdom84.70%

What Powell haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Powell is R-P311, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-P311 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-CTS241 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Davis, Williams, West, Harrison, Andrews, Barnes, Morris, Thomas, Cross, Douglas.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Powell surname are: H1, T2b, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

powellPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Powell have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Powell" Surname 43.9%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Powell" Surname 27.2%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Powell" Surname 24.2%

23andMe Users 21.1%



Cat Allergy

An allergic reaction to cats, characterized by symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and difficulty breathing.

"Powell" Surname 33.3%

23andMe Users 36.7%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Powell?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Powell are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%