The Development of Middle Welsh ap Names: A Dynamic Perspective
Griffen, Toby D. (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)
Published online (2006)
In the Middle Ages, Welsh males were generally identified by name and patronymic, with the intervening particle ap. Thus, for example, we find such famous names as Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Dafydd ap Gwilym, Gruffudd ap Cynan, and so forth.
As they were required to take family names, the Welsh incorporated the patronymic in one of two ways. On the one hand, they might add an English possessive s to an Anglicized form of the patronymic, changing such combinations as ap Sion to Jones, ap Rhisiard to Richards, and so forth. On the other hand, they might blend the particle with the patronymic, changing such combinations as ap Rhys to Prys (or Price), ap Evan to Bevan, etc. It is this latter practice that we shall examine here.
There are two variants to the ap names, one beginning with B and the other with P. When the ap joins a patronymic beginning with a vowel, the result is a name beginning with B. Thus, ap + Owen yields Bowen, ap + Evan yields Bevan, etc. When the patronymic begins with the aspirant H or Rh, however, the name begins with P. Thus, ap + Huw yields Pugh, ap + Rhisiard yields Prichard, etc.