This surname, with variant forms Edwardes and Edwardson, is a patronymic form of the early medieval English male given name Edward, itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Eadward", composed of the elements "ead", prosperity or fortune, plus "w(e)ard", guard; hence, "prosperity guard". The name was very popular in England and throughout the Continent largely as a result of the fame of the two canonized kings of England, Edward the Martyr (962 - 979), and Edward the Confessor (1004 - 1066). The personal name was first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, circa 800 A.D. as "Eadweard" and variously as "Eaduuardus" and "Eduuard" in the Domesday Book of 1086...
Edwards (Variants: Edwardes) This surname is derived from the name of an ancestor, as in 'the son of Edward.' Old English name Eadweard, meaning ‘guardian of prosperity or happiness’ is closely related to other Old English names Edwin, meaning ‘prosperity- friend’ or ‘rich friend’. Edmund can also mean ‘prosperity - protector’.
Modern associations of the first name Edward include Ed, Eddy, Ted, Teddy and various others. Edward has been adapted slightly in other countries, in French as Edouard, Scandinavian Edvard, and the Spanish Eduardo.
The UK has an Edwardstone in Suffolk, which has woodland that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Australia also has the name-related town of Edwardstown.
In 1891, the frequency of Edwards in England and Wales 82,799 with a further 1,272 recorded in Scotland. In 1881, the surname was widespread across Wales, South and West England. In the southern county of Kent, it was recorded as a top county with 2,415 occurrences. During the same year in the UK, it was most occupationally common for Edwards to be Farmers along with Labourer and Coal Miner. A less reported occupation was Agricultural Labourer.
In August 1809, William Edwards, an English convict from Kent, was transported aboard the "Ann" settling in New South Wales, Australia.
Jonathan Edwards (1703—58), an American philosopher and preacher was well known for A Dissertation Concerning The End For Which God Created The World. Edwards disputed against the majority that claimed that human happiness was the end for which God created the world. Edwards instead puts forth the conception that for God's creation of the world was not human happiness, but the magnification of his own glory and name. Unfortunately, it was not published until after his death in 1765 along with a similar publication – The Nature of True Virtue.
SOURCES: 1881, 1891 Census
1881 Census in Kent
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain