Howard Family Genealogy Howard Family         

Howard Family Howard Family
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Howard Family Facts!

Origin and meanings of the Howard Surname...

The origin of the Howard name is English and the Coat of Arms contains “Red with a silver stripe between six silver crosses.” The family motto is “Sola virtus invicta” which means "Virtue alone invincible" (see our logo - top left of the page).

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Howard is an ancient name whose history on English soil dates back to before the wave of emigration that followed the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Howard or Howart, is a cognate of the Old Norse name Haward and means "high" or "chief" warden. Occasionally, the surname Howard may have been applied to someone who worked at a dairy farm at which female sheep were kept. In this case, the derivation is from the Old English words "eowu," which means "ewe," and "hierde," which means "herd." The name also came to Britain with the Normans, where it came from the Old French name Huard or the Old German name Howard. The former name is derived from the Old German name Hugihard, which literally means "heart-brave."

First found in in Cumberland, England, where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066.

For four centuries the Howard family stood at the head of English nobility. The Howard family can definitely trace their ancestry back to Sir William Howard living under the first of two Edwards from 1297 to 1308. It was in the stirring days of Edward I that the first Howard made his home at East Wynch. This was Master William Howard, afterwards to become Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and a knight. Of his parentage we know nothing, although the probabilities are that he belonged either to a burgess family of Lynn, or else to some substantial yeoman stock of the neighborhood. He may have been either of Danish or of English descent. Northwest Norfolk was as much a district of the Danes as it was of the Angles ;"and both races sought refuge in its marshy fastnesses after the Norman conquest, gradually emerging from their hiding places as the laws of the invader grew less rigorous. But it must also be remembered that the shores of the Wash sheltered searovers of many different breeds, and that there are evidences, especially in local place-names, of a stubbornly rooted British population.

The surname which Howard bore tells us little in this direction. As it stands, it might well be of Scandinavian origin, and the sea-going tastes of so many early Howards seem to indicate a Viking strain; or the original form may possibly have been "Hereward". There certainly was a rich burgess of Lynn, William Hereward by name, who flourished early in Henry III's reign ; but neither the Chief Justice himself, or any of his descendants, ever spelled their patronymic thus, although they use many other forms, such as Heyward, Heiward, Haward, and Harrard.

The Hereward theory has inspired certain genealogists to deduce the descent of the ducal line of Norfolk from Hereward the Wake, "last of the Saxons"; but the derivation most favored by the matter-of-fact is the simple one of " Heyward", which was a title bestowed in old England upon the functionary who guarded the barns and haggards of a farm or village. "The warden of a common is still so called in some parts of the country.

It is interesting to note the various pedigrees, more or less splendid, upon which the professional heralds have attempted at different periods to graft the Howard stock. Instead of helping to unravel the puzzle, these tabarded flatterers have so confused the evidences at their command that today the very name of Justice William Howard's father is unknown and will probably remain so forever.

Perhaps the most absurd of these gorgeous lines of descent is that quoted in Collins' Peerage, "on the authority of three heralds of high repute." But, in truth, the pedigree which flaunts itself unblushingly in Burke's Peerage, tracing the Howards to "Hereward the Wake", rests upon no better foundation; and if there were even a tradition in the Judge's time of any such descent (and there must have been, had any such descent existed), some memorial of the fact would have figured in the Howard arms.

It is satisfactory to find that one of the first to set aside these vain imaginings was himself a Howard, Henry Howard of Corby, who, in his "Memorials", describes the worthy Judge's ancestors as " gentry of small estate, probably of Saxon origin, living at home, intermarrying with their neighbors, and witnessing each other's deeds of conveyance and contract."

Mr. Henry Howard makes the Judge a grandson of "Robert Howard of Terrington and Wiggenhall," and a son of "John Howard, by his wife Lucy Germund"; but even of this modest claim there is no tangible proof. That Robert Howard owned lands in Wiggenhall and Terrington cannot be denied; but the deeds and charters show that while he purchased some of this property, presumably out of his legal earnings, the remainder came to him with his wife, Alice Fitton of Wiggenhall St. Germans.

It is to be feared that we must accept Dugdale's dictum, and look upon William Howard of East Wynch as the first of his Howard line.

How did William Howard become the Duke of Norfolk?
Before the Dukes of Norfolk, there were the Bigod Earls of Norfolk, starting with Roger Bigod from Normandy (died 1107). Their male line ended with Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk, who died without an heir in 1307, so their titles and estates reverted to the crown. Edward II then created his brother Thomas of Brotherton earl in 1312. It passed to his daughter Margaret, and then to her grandson Thomas Mowbray.

When King Richard II created Thomas Mowbray duke in 1397, he conferred upon him the estates and titles (including Earl Marshal) that had belonged to the Bigod earls. His elderly grandmother Margaret was still alive, and so at the same time she was created Duchess of Norfolk for life.

Between 1397 and 1476, the Mowbray family held the title and estates of the Duke of Norfolk. John Mowbray, the 4th duke, died without male issue in 1476, his only surviving child being the 3-year-old Anne Mowbray. At the age 5, Anne was arranged to marry Richard, Duke of York, the 4-year-old son of King Edward IV of England. She remained Richard's wife until she died at the age of 8.

In accordance with the marriage arrangements, Richard inherited the lands and wealth of the Mowbray family. He was also made Duke of Norfolk. However, upon the death of Edward IV, controversy over the legitimacy arose, as evidence of an earlier marriage on the part of Edward IV emerged. Soon after their father's death Richard, and his brother Edward, were declared illegitimate. Richard was sent to the Tower of London by the new king, Richard III, in mid-1483, thus ending his claim to both York and Norfolk.

For his support of Richard III's claim to the throne, John Howard, the son of Thomas Mowbray's elder daughter Margaret, was created 1st Duke of Norfolk in 1483, in the title's third creation. From this point to the present, the title has remained in the hands of the descendants of John Howard.

The current Duke of Norfolk is His Grace Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk, who succeeded his father, Miles Stapleton-Fitzalan-Howard, 17th Duke of Norfolk, in 2002.

Early American Howard Settlers
Some of the first settlers of the Howard name or some of its variants were: John Howard settled in Virginia in 1622; William Howard settled in Virginia in 1635; John Howard settled in Virginia in 1634; James Howard settled in Virginia in 1656 and others.

Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th centuries. They were not in use in England and Scotland before the Norman conquest of 1066, and were first found in the Domesday book. The use of a second name, a custom introduced by the Normans (who themselves had adopted it not long before) became in course of time a mark of gentle blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for a gentleman to have but one single name as meaner people had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307 - 1327) that the practice became general amongst all people in England.

These names were adopted according to fairly general principles and can generally be divided into four classifications:

  1. Local names are taken from place of origin. (e.g. Hill).
  2. Occupational names denote the trade or profession of early users. (e.g. Miller).
  3. Nicknames describe mental or physical characteristics, clothes etc. (e.g. Strong).
  4. Patronymic names used a father's first name as the last name of his son. (e.g. John).

HOWARD is an English patronymic name from the Norman given name HUARD and HEWARD, which came from the elements:

hug = heart, mind + hard = hardy, brave.
and from an Old Norse name HAWARD, from elements ha = high + varđr = guardian.

HEWARD, HEWART, HUART are variations of the Norman form.

HAWARD is a variation of the Norse.

English/Norman patronymic versions include HEWARTSON, HEWERTSON, HUARTSON and  HUERTSON.

HAYWARD is an English occupational name that described the man who protected the enclosed forest or other land from damage by vandals, poachers, or animals. It comes from Old English:

hay = enclosure + ward = guardian.
HEYWARD and HAWARD are variations.

Some other variations are HAYWORD and HEYWORD...

Lord William Howard, First Baron Howard of Effingham, eldest son of Thomas, Second Duke of Norfolk, by Agnes his second Duchess in 1510, having been employed by Henry VIII, and Edward VI in numerous confidential missions to foreign courts, was elevated to the Peerage in the first year of the reign of Queen Mary, in March 1554, as Baron Howard of Effingham, Surrey, and was constituted upon the 20th of the same month as Lord-High-Admiral of Her Majesty's Dominions. His Lordship was installed as a Knight of the Garter in December of the same year. Lord Howard of Effingham in the Reign of Elizabeth, held the office of Lord Chamberlain to the Household, and afterwards that of lord-Privy-Seal.

The surname Howard has been worn by many distinguished bearers, although none more so than the aforementioned. It appears to derive from the Old Germanic name "Hugihard", denoting one strong of heart, or very brave. This first name has given rise to several other patronymic surnames other than Howard, including Huart, Heward, Hewart, etc., although another German term "howart", denoting "high chief", or "warden, could also have been the origin of Howard. Among the earliest written references we read of Huardus Houart in the Domesday Book in 1086, and one called Willelmus filius Huward was mentioned in the Pipe Rolls for Northumberland in 1170. In Ireland the name does duty for O'Hiomhair in county Clare, where it was formerly O'Hure.

Howard Family Genealogy Click here for more information about
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The Howard family are sometimes called England's second family. They are headed by the Duke of Norfolk, Premier Peer of the Realm.

While legendary pedigrees trace the family to the 10th century, indisputable descent begins with Sir William Howard (died 1308), a judge who was in the House of Commons in the Model Parliament of 1295.

His great-great-great-grandson, Sir Robert Howard, married Lady Margaret Mowbray, elder daughter of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. The line of Dukes died out in 1476 and the heiress of the last Duke, Anne Mowbray, died a girl of nine in 1481; after declaring her widower Richard, Duke of York illegitimate, Richard III of England created the son of Sir Richard and Lady Margaret, John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk of a new creation on June 28, 1483, the 200th anniversary of the Barony of Mowbray to which he was also senior co-heir. John had previously been summoned to Parliament as Lord Howard by Edward IV. He was also created hereditary Earl Marshal.

Both the Dukedom and Earl Marshalship have been the subject of repeated attainders and restorations in the 15th to 17th centuries. Before Charles II restored the titles for good, the Howards had inherited the ancient title of Earl of Arundel through an heiress, and formed additional branches that have continued to this day.

In order of genealogical seniority:

  1. The Barons Howard of Penrith descend from a younger son of the 6th Duke.
  2. The Earls of Suffolk and Berkshire descend from the 2nd son of the 4th Duke.
  3. The Earls of Carlisle descend from the third son of the 4th Duke.
  4. The Earls of Effingham descend from the fourth son of the 2nd Duke, who was Lord High Admiral and whose son was commander in chief against the Spanish Armada. Curiously, this line was excluded from eligibility to inherit on the restoration of the Dukedom.
This chart shows the BEST chances for meeting a Howard in the USA
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Howard Family Distribution (watch them spread):
Howard Family Distribution



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