History of the Lewis Name
If you research the History of the Lewis name you will discover that there are dozens of variations, each one as exciting as the other. The following histories are offered; there may be many more.

The name Lewis is a derivation of the Norwegian name Ljodhhus, meaning the "sounding house." The "sounding house" was a building that housed the men who took the depth of the seas in the local area. In the late 700s through the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the Vikings (also called Norsemen, Danes, etc) invaded all of the British Isles and many settled permenently and integrated with the existing Britons, Anglo-Saxons, and Normans (also descendents of the Vikings). There is very strong evidence that the name Lewis first appeared at about the same time in all parts of the British Isles - from these Viking settlers.

From Carl-Johan Swärdenheim in August 2005, he writes:


1. The word "lod" or "lodh" could mean "a bundle of hay or barch" etc. The north German version is "luot", which indicates "a lot". (This is actually the same word. "A lot of hay" is a "lodh of hay".)

2. Another possibility, related to the one above, is "lodh", which means "ball". This word eventually evolved into "lead" (a lump of metal). From this we got the "lodh" used by master mariners in Viking times, to measure the depth etc. Any such house for storing "lodhs" could be called a "lodh-hus", a "lead-house". (The meaning is crystal clear even in English, "to use the lead" etc in the Royal Navy.)

3. The core essence of the word "lod/lodh" is "being like a ball", it could thus in an Old Norse context mean "a fat man" or "a big man".

4. The name "lodh" is related to "klot" (=ball), such as "Klothar" (king Lothar of Lotharingia/Lorraine in eastern France), and in modern English the same word as "globe".

5. The names "Hlodh", "Lopt" and such were not uncommon among Vikings.

All the best!

In Scotland, The Siol Torquil branch of the Clan MacLeod is descended from Torquil, son of Leod, who was son to Olaf the Black of Norway and the Orkney. In the 14th Century, King David II of Scotland granted to Torquil MacLeod a charter of the barony of Assynt in Sutherland. Lewis was given to Torquil by his father, Leod of Norway descent. MacLeods had been held as vassals of the MacDonalds, and with the acquisition of other lands in Raasay, Waternish and Gairloch, the Siol Torquil rivaled the Siol Tormod in importance and disputed the chiefship of the clan. Torquil had enough clan members to become his own Clan Chief, and he did so. There was no animosity between the brother's Clans and both were Chiefs of each's own Clan. Tormod became MacLeod of Harris, Torquil became MacLeod of Lewis - a clan that continues today in Scotland on the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Skye - and throughout the world.
Known as Caractacus by the Romans, and as Caradwg to his kinsmen, a young Welshman led the forces of free Wales to resist the imperialism of Roman aggression in his home country shortly after the birth of Christ. He married Tegas Everon (which means the golden beauty) a Princess of Brittain, and they had a daughter named Teon. Teon's son, Gwathford, was a great lord during the time of the Romans' attempted domination in Wales. For the next fifteen generations, Gwathford's descendents watched the Roman might slowly crumble. All the Lewises of Wales are descendents of Gwathford. A fifteenth generation descendent of Gwathford was Richard Gwynn or Gawain. Richard Gawain had a son named Lewis. This Lewis founded the family name through several sons. He was the father of Lewis of Clibachvargold, Lewis of Penmarc, Lewis of Listolybout, Lewis of Glyntaft, Lewis of Lanshire, Lewis of Newhouse, and Lewis of Green Meadow.
Lewises were men of power and their name alone carried such prestige that it almost amounted to a title within itself. The name of Lewis in time came to be synonymous to the Welsh for guardian or listener. To the English and the Saxons, Lewis meant fighter.
The name Lewis is a Scandinavian word derived from old Frankish Hludwig and old Germanic Chlodowech meaning "famous warrior." In Latin it was transformed into Ludovicus, and in Gaelic to Clovis. Medieval Italians turned it into Aloisius, while the French adopted Louis.  
Some early written records of the Lewis name are found in medieval tax and church records. They note Llewellan Lewis, son of Modach the Reed (which means learned), Archdeacon of Brecon, in 1437. Lewis Owen, Archdeacon of Cartigan is recorded in 1487. Lewis Prevendary of St. David lived in 1502. Ivor Lewis, known as Ivor the Little, was a great warrior in the battle between Wales and England in the 12th century. Waltrus Lewis appears in the 1209 pipe rolls of Warwickshire. Robert Lewis was in the 1202 pipe rolls of Lancastershire, and William Lewis in 1267 Fleet of Fines of Suffolk. David Lewis became the first principal of the Jesus College in 1520. 
The name Lewis was first used in England as a personal name - Lowis le Briton is recorded in 1166 in the Red Book of the Exchequer of Essex County. 
It is thought that Lewis could be a derivation of Llewellyn, Llew, meaning leader. It is a baptismal name. Although there are now many families with this name, one Lewis family descends from Gwaethvoed, a great chieftain and friend of Edgar, King of the Saxons. Cadivor, prince of Divot in Pembrokeshire, Wales about 1066 was the progenitor of another Lewis family. He married Ellen, daughter of Lord of Kilsant.

This ancient family name has its roots firmly planted in Wales, but also has strong Anglo-Saxon connections. A Walterus filus Lowis is recorded as living in Warwickshire, England in 1209, and a Robert Lowis is found in Lancashire, England in 1202. During the 11th century, the system of surnames was introduced to the British Isles by the Normans. They were usually local (place of residence or birth), patronymic ("son of"), a trade name, or a nickname..

Lewis is the Anglo-Saxon form of the old Frankish Hludwig, meaning loud battle, which also gave the French name Louis and the Welsh names Llewellyn and Lewis. Lewis was a popular first name in Wales in the 1400s and later became a surname, meaning "son of Lewis." The ancient family motto was "Patriae Fidus," meaning "Faithful to my Country."

In Scotland, the name Lewis evolved independantly. From the end of the eighth century the west of Scotland was constantly attacked by Vikings and Norsemen who came to settle the Shetland Islands. They used the northern isles as a base for their plundering of the British Isles, and by the end of the 12th century their descendents, the Kings of Man, a mix of Celts and Norsemen, also ruled the Hebrides Islands.

According to Clan tradition, MacLeod is believed to be descended from a Viking ancestor, Leod, who was the son of Olaf the Black, King of Man and the Northern Isles. Leod, who lived in the 13th century, was a very powerful chieftain. When the King of Norway gave up the Hebrides to the King of Scots, Leod took advantage of the confusion that followedd to extend his territories to cover most of the islands of Skye, Lewis, and Harris, and parts of the mainland including Appin.

It is said that Leod acquired Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye when he married the heiress of the Norse family who owned much of this island in the early 13th century. Leod died around 1280 a.d., and in accordance with the Scandinavian tradition of the time, his lands were divided between his two sons - Siol Tormod and Siol Torquil. This division spawned the two distinctive branches of the Clan MacLeod - the MacLeods of Harris, Glen Elg and Dunvegan, and the MacLeods of Lewis and Assynt.

Click Here for more history pertaining to one specific Lewis lineage from Wales.

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