What is the origin of the last name Howe?

The last name Howe has its origin in medieval England, derived from the Old Norse personal name Hává, meaning "high" or "elevated." This name evolved to become Hawe and ultimately transformed into Howe, incorporating both Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon influences. The surname likely emerged as a patronymic form, indicating descent from someone named Hává or a similar variant. Over time, the name spread across different regions, and various branches of the Howe family emerged, bearing witness to the complex intermingling of cultures and histories that shaped its etymology.

Countries of origin for the last name Howe

The last name Howe has a long history and is of English origin. It is derived from the Old Norse word “haugr,” meaning “hill” or “mound.” The name has several variations, including How, Hough, and Howes. Howe is a relatively common surname, ranking 1,897th in popularity in the United States. It is most prevalent in England, where it ranks 140th in popularity.

The earliest recorded instances of the surname Howe date back to the 12th century in England. The name was initially a locational surname, indicating that the bearer hailed from a particular place or owned land there. The geographical locations associated with the surname include Howe in Norfolk, Howe Green in Essex, and Howe Bridge in Lancashire.

The Howe family played a significant role in English history, particularly during the medieval period. The most prominent person with the surname was Richard Howe, the 1st Earl Howe, who was an Admiral in the Royal Navy. He gained fame for his victory over the French in the Battle of Cape Spartel in 1782. This victory was crucial in securing British control over Gibraltar.

The surname Howe can also be found in Scotland and Ireland, although in smaller numbers compared to England. In Scotland, it is mainly associated with the northeast region, particularly Aberdeenshire. The name may have been introduced to Scotland by the Viking settlers who inhabited the area during the medieval period.

When examining the etymology of the surname Howe, it is essential to consider the various occupational and descriptive derivative names it has given rise to. These include names like Howell, derived from the Middle English term “wulf,” meaning “wolf,” and Howlett, derived from the diminutive form of “Howe.” These derivative names indicate that the bearers were either a son of someone named Howe or had some association with the original surname.

Genealogical research of the Howe name reveals numerous notable individuals who have carried the surname throughout history. These include both individuals who played a prominent role in their respective fields and those who achieved fame for their accomplishments. Notable people with the surname include Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, and Gordie Howe, one of the greatest ice hockey players of all time.

Interesting facts about the last name Howe

  • The surname Howe is of English origin.
  • It is derived from the Old Norse word “haugr,” meaning “mound” or “hill.”
  • The name Howe is also associated with the occupation of a “hewer” or someone who cuts or shapes wood or stone.
  • Notable individuals with the surname Howe include:
    • Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe, a British naval officer who served during the American Revolutionary War.
    • Julia Ward Howe, an American poet and writer best known for writing the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
    • Steve Howe, an English musician and guitarist known for his work with the progressive rock band Yes.
  • The surname Howe is relatively common in English-speaking countries, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • There are various variations of the surname, including How, Hough, and Howes.
  • In Scotland, Howe is used to describe a low-lying area near a river, as well as a gentle slope or valley.

Name Rank


There are around 42265 people with the last name Howe in the US

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