This surname, with variant forms Edwards, Edards, 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. William Edward, noted in the 1219 Curia Regis Rolls of Suffolk, is the first recorded bearer of the surname. The patronymic form first appears in Wales where it is still particularly widespread; Humphrey Edwards (died 1658), signed the death-warrant of Charles 1st in 1649, and became commissioner of South Wales in 1651. John Edwards (died 1776), translated the "Pilgrim's Progress" into Welsh (1767 - 1768). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Edwards, which was dated 1498, in the "Records of Chirk", Wales, during the reign of King Henry V11, known as "The Last Welsh King", 1485 - 1509. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.