Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-09 > 1032811043

From: Nathaniel Taylor <>
Subject: Re: Howard--Origin of the name
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 19:57:23 GMT
References: <> <>

Karen Repko wrote:

>> > Can anyone tell me with any authority, what the origin of the
>> > surname Howard is.

Rick Eaton replied:

>> I don't know about the origin, but I can tell you that
>> Hayward and Howard were different spellings of the same
>> surname.

Karen replied:

> Thank you for your reply, and I was previously aware of the name
>usage between Howard and *de* Hayward.
> What I am actually trying to ascertain is what name was first used
>for the Howards of Norfolk, as I feel that their origin may be found
>in the norman-french name of de Hayward, and not from Hereward as some
>sources have stated.

This exchange parallels another current one on Braose, and bears
commenting on.

The Oxford _Dictionary of English Surnames_ (3d ed, rev., 1997) gives
several specific early examples of names which have later come to be
spelled 'Howard' (among many other variants). None of the origins shown
in the dictionary is a Norman toponym, so they would never have been
written in the form *de + place-name*, and since 'Hayward' is an
Anglo-Saxon name, it is doubly doubtful that there ever was a
'Norman-French name of de Hayward'.

Several relevant entries may be summarized, all of which appear to be
potential contributors to the modern surname 'Howard' or close homonyms.
First, there are sources of the name 'Howard' which come clearly through
Norman-French, but not as a toponym:

1. 'Howard' (essentially the same as the modern standard spelling) was
in Norman usage at the time, appearing in Domesday book as 'Houardus',
and in the early 12th c. as 'Howardus', 'Owardus', etc., deriving from
an Old Germanic word of form prefix-root for 'high warden' (note that we
have modern English cognates for both word elements in this definition).

2. 'Huard', another distinct attested Norman name of the Conquest
period, deriving from an Old Germanic double-rooted name of form
'Hugi-hard' ('heart-brave', the first root being the root of the common
short name 'Hugh').

Both (1) and (2) appear as Normans in Domesday England, with spelling
variants suggesting either could be the source of later 'Howards'.

Yet the dictionary also shows several distinct Anglo-Saxon words which
also came to be used as confusable homonymous names in the early modern

3. 'Hereward', an Anglo-Saxon compound word, here-weard, meaning 'army
guard' (as in the famous rebel Hereward 'the Wake'). Appears in 16th c.
as 'Harward' (and alleged as origin of name 'Harvard' in another source
I've seen).

4. 'Hayward', also an Anglo-Saxon compound word, hege-weard or
haeg-weard, meaning 'hedge-guard', a sort of cattle-warden. The word
'hayward' was retained in Middle English and modern English for a
similar agricultural office, and appears clearly spelled 'Howard' in
some 17th-c. texts, suggesting possible name confusion. 'Hayward'
continues as a modern surname, but some modern Howards may also
originally have been Haywards, though this does not make it, as Rick
suggested, 'the same surname'.

5. 'Howeherde', from Anglo-Saxon 'eowu-hierde', meaning 'ewe-herd', seen
in the 14th century, possibly also confused or assimilated to 'Howard'.

6. 'Haworth' is the only toponym I find in the dictionary potentially
contributing to the surname spelled 'Howard'; it is Anglo-Saxon-Danish,
found in Yorkshire West Riding. As a surname it was common in the
corrupted form 'Howarth' by the 16th c., conceivably confusable and
contributory to some 'Howard' names. The dictionary cites no usages of
this name in the latinized form with *de + place-name*.

Given the dictionary's specific attestations for Normans named 'Howard'
and 'Huard' in the eleventh and early 12th centuries, it seems very
likely that the ducal Howards, at least, derived their patronymic
surname from either of these names, though the specific eponymous
Conquest-era ancestor of the ducal Howards is, I think, not known.

Query: who IS the first known ancestor of the ducal Howard line? What
does CP say?

Nat Taylor

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