William last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name William is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named William.

Meaning of William

An English surname derived from the Norman French given name Willaume, which is a cognate of William.

William, like all of the last names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the William surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of William in America

William is the 2694th most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The William surname appeared 13,373 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 5 people would have the surname William.

We can also compare 2010 data for William to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 2694 1923 33.40%
Count 13,373 17,164 -24.83%
Proportion per 100k 4.53 6.36 -33.61%

The history of the last name William

The surname WILLIAM is of English origin, derived from the Norman French form of the Germanic name Willelm or Wilhelm. It is a compound word formed from the elements "wil" meaning "desire" and "helm" meaning "helmet" or "protection." The name gained widespread popularity after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

The earliest recorded instances of the surname WILLIAM can be traced back to the 11th century, shortly after the Norman invasion. The Domesday Book, a comprehensive survey of landowners and property throughout England commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086, contains numerous references to individuals bearing this surname.

During the Middle Ages, the surname WILLIAM was particularly prevalent in areas of Normandy and northern France, as well as in regions of England with strong Norman influence, such as Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and East Anglia. The name was often associated with landed gentry and nobility, as many Norman noblemen adopted the surname following their conquest of England.

One of the most notable early bearers of the surname WILLIAM was William Marshal (c. 1147-1219), a celebrated knight and statesman who served as regent of England during the minority of King Henry III. Another prominent figure was William Wallace (c. 1270-1305), the Scottish knight and leader of the Scottish Wars of Independence against England.

In the 14th century, the surname WILLIAM appeared in various spellings, including Willame, Wyllyam, and Wylyam, reflecting the evolving nature of English orthography at the time. During this period, the name was also associated with place names, such as William of Wykeham (c. 1324-1404), the influential Bishop of Winchester and founder of Winchester College and New College, Oxford.

Other notable individuals with the surname WILLIAM throughout history include William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the renowned English playwright and poet; William Wordsworth (1770-1850), the influential English Romantic poet; and William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the English politician and philanthropist who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name William

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname William.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for William was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 35.20% 4,707
Non-Hispanic Black Only 53.62% 7,171
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 4.20% 562
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.05% 140
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 2.38% 318
Hispanic Origin 3.56% 476

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of William has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 35.20% 34.04% 3.35%
Black 53.62% 59.01% -9.57%
Asian and Pacific Islander 4.20% 1.61% 89.16%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.05% 0.67% 44.19%
Two or More Races 2.38% 2.33% 2.12%
Hispanic 3.56% 2.34% 41.36%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name William was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of William, please contact us.

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"William last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com. Accessed on July 22, 2024. http://namecensus.com/last-names/william-surname-popularity/.

"William last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com, http://namecensus.com/last-names/william-surname-popularity/. Accessed 22 July, 2024

William last name popularity, history, and meaning. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from http://namecensus.com/last-names/william-surname-popularity/.

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