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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 Crest is “A lion on a chapeau.” The family motto is “Sola virtus invicta” (see our logo - top left of the page).

First found in in Cumberland 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. Some of the first settlers of this 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:
bullet Local names are taken from place of origin. (e.g. Hill).
bullet Occupational names denote the trade or profession of early users. (e.g. Miller).
bullet Nicknames describe mental or physical characteristics, clothes etc. (e.g. Strong).
bullet Patronymic names used a father's first name as the last name of his son. (e.g. John).

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

bullet hug = heart, mind + hard = hardy, brave.
and from an Old Norse name HAWARD, from elements
ha = high + varđr = guardian.
bullet HEWARD, HEWART, HUART are variations of the Norman form.
bullet HAWARD is a variation of the Norse.
bullet English/Norman patronymic versions include HEWARTSON, HEWERTSON, HUARTSON and HUERTSON.
bullet 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:
bullet hay = enclosure + ward = guardian.
HEYWARD and HAWARD are variations.
bullet Some other variations are HAYWORD and HEYWORD...

Communication between myself and another researcher:

Dear George,

Here are the details from the Heman Howard book concerning John Howard that might point to his ancestors in England:

"John Howard, A native of England, settled in Duxbury, and was enrolled able to bear arms, 1643..."(p. xv, quoting a "Howard tablet" in the Howard alcove in the "southerly end of the building" of the Old Bridgewater Historical Society Building, located in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts).

"JOHN HOWARD, with his brother George, came from England, and settled in Duxbury [Massachusetts]....He was about 15 years old when he came to Duxbury." (p. 1)

Heman Howard makes mention of a piece by "Judge Mitchell," "his history of Bridgewater," which may likely be:

Nahum Mitchell, History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family Register (Boston: Printed for the author by Kidder and Wright, 1840).

There is no formal mention of John Howard's father, and the only mention of his mother concerns the letter that is pictured on the unnumbered pages before page 1 that would be xvi and xvii:

“This letter is a photographic reproduction of the original, which is in the possession of a member of the Howard family. It is supposed to have been written to John Howard, the progenitor of this family, by his mother, who spelled her name Hayward, which was not an uncommon way of spelling the name. As it is very difficult to read the letter, the following is printed as an aid:

London, Aug. 16, 1652

Loving Son:--

Having a fitt opportunity by a friend to send to you, I could not, out of my motherly care to you and your brother, do less than write these few lines to you to certify you that both I and your sister are in good health, praysed be God, and that I earnestly desire to hear from you both, how you do and how and in what condition you are both. Your sister desires to be remembered to you both, and she and I have sent you some small tokens of our love for you. I have sent George 3 bands and a handkerchief you yourself, and I have sent you a shilling to you to pay for writing of a letter, if by long silence you have forgot. I wonder, son, you should so forgot your mother, whose welfare she tended more than anything in the world. Your sister hath sent you a book of your father’s to you and a bible to George. Did we conceive you were alive, we would have sent you better tokens. Child, with my blessing to you both, desiring to hear from you and whether you ever intend for England, and how your cousing Sarah doth, with my daily prayer to the Lord for you, I rest.

Your Loving Mother,

Mary Hayward.

George, there you go....that's all the mentions that are made of a family in England. Hope it helps you in some way.


Aaron Howard

North Syracuse, NY

For her loving son, John Hayward,


In case he be dead, to George Hayward in New England.” (p. xvi)

George Howard wrote:
I certainly will, and I look forward to hearing more. My father, who
had a book on our genealogy professionally researched and bound, has
heard that there may be link to the Duke of Norfolk and possibly Howard
Castle, but like I said his research ended at the shores of
Massachussetts. Thank you, George

On Feb 18, 2005, at 10:23 AM, Aaron Howard wrote:

> Dear George,
> The Heman Howard book gives few indications of John's history in
> England, and once I have the book in front of me this weekend (I'm at
> work now), I will be able to cite the references, but they are not
> much to go on.
> I am interested in this line also, leading back to England, and have
> found listings in the WorldConnect Project where people
> have cited forebears of John Howard, but without adequate
> documentation, they are suspect at best. The recent trend seems to
> be citing a James Howard and Mary Cooper as his parents in either
> Aylesford or London, Middlesex, England. One source even cites a
> William Howard as the parent of James, but this sort of
> gossip-genealogy is a curiosity at best, so I have omitted any
> references to the trees I am finding.
> One reference cites a reference to John Howard from an Ancestral File,
> through the LDS, AFN: 8J6W-H9, and that has most of the information
> these WorldConnect Project trees cite, but I am not satisfied with the
> documentation that the Ancestral File has. I'm not familiar with how
> the Ancestral File submissions are done, or what sources could be
> found to verify the information that they contain.
> That's the extent of the information that I know about John Howard's
> connection to England outside of the Heman Howard book. I will
> forward the rest later.
> If you do come across anything that would point to the ancestors of
> John Howard a little better, I hope that you would keep me in
> mind--I'm very curious!
> Aaron Howard
> North Syracuse, NY
> George Howard wrote:
> Thank you. Do we know some of John Howard's (arrived in Duxbury in
> 1643, later settled in Bridgewater) ancestry in England? My family has
> done the research all the way back to John, but did not go back into
> England which is the area that I am interested in. Do we know what
> region he came from or is there a way to connect him to English
> genealogies? Thank you for all your help, George Howard
> On Feb 18, 2005, at 9:11 AM, Aaron Howard wrote:
> > Dear George,
> >
> > As for other copies of the book, I would imagine that searches
> through
> >,,, or other old book sites might
> turn
> > up an original for sale (I was a little late on picking up a copy
> > being sold through a library in Pennsylvania last year).
> > is offering a reprint right now from Books on Demand of Michigan
> for a
> > little over $120.
> >
> > There are some sites that are offering reprints of the book that are
> > quite nice. I got mine done through Higginson Books
> > (, and I believe that they are still
> > selling reprints as item hh00303 in archival-quality softcover and
> > hardcover in the $50-60 range. The hardcover, for the $12 extra, is
> > worth the money.
> >
&g! t; > If that might seem too expensive, the book has been microfilmed, and
> > is available through your local Family History Center. A more
> precise
> > reference may be found here:
> >
> >
> > supermainframeset.asp?
> >
> display=titlefilmnotes&columns=*%2C0%2C0&titleno=517444&disp=The+Howard
> > +genealogy%2C+descendants+of+J++
> >
> > If you haven't yet seen a copy of this book, y! ou might try to see
> > about having a look before buying it. It is somewhat idiosyncratic
> in
> > its organization, but quite clear once you get the hang of it. Of
> > course, you'll want to make sure that your family is included in this
> > book also. The limitation that Heman Howard immediately presents
> is a
> > complete absence of any documentation or footnotes or sources. I am
> > personally interested in the history of this book also, and have
> done
> > a little digging to try and find out more about where Heman Howard
> got
> > the information on my branch of the Howard family from, as well as
> how
> > many copies of the original book are in existence, etc.. Also of
> > special interest is the whereabouts of a letter reproduced somewhat
> > poorly in the reprint from Mrs. Mary Hayward to her son John Howard
> > (spelled Hayward at the time), dated in the mid-17th century. I
> would
> > like to track that letter down very much.
> >
> > I hope that this has provided you some useful information. Please
> > feel free to email me back should you want a lookup also.
> >
> > Aaron Howard
> > North Syracuse, NY
> >
> > George Howard wrote:
> > Thanks Aaron, I cam across a website with your email on it. I don't
> > suppose there are other copies of this book floating around, are
> > there?
> >
> >
> > On Feb 18, 2005, at 4:43 AM, Aaron Howard wrote:
> >
> > > Dear George,
> > >
> > > Thanks for your email. I think that you are referring to a book
> that
> > > I have:
> > >
> > > Howard, Heman. The Howard Genealogy: Descendents of John Howard of
> > > Bridgewater, Massachusetts from 1643 to 1903. Brockton, MA:
> Standard
> > > Printing, 1903.
> > >
> > > I am certainly willing to do lookups from this book, if you like.
> > > Please give me a starting point to work from, and I will let you
> > know
> > > what I find.
> > >
> > > Incidentally, my Howard family traces back to this line, and quite
> > > clearly outline descendents leading up to my great-grandfather,
> > James
> > > Seth Howard (b. 1862) of Volney, Oswego County, NY.
> > >
> > > How did you come to email me?
> > >
> > > Looking forward to hearing from you,
> > >
> > > Aaron Howard
> > > North Syracuse, NY
> > >
> > > George Howard wrote:
> > > Hi, I would like some information on the descendants of John Howard
> > of
> > > Duxbury and Bridgewater, Mass. if you have some. Thank you, George
> > > Howard