Select Harding Surname Genealogy

The Old English Harding or Hearding, meaning hardy, brave or strong, has provided the basis for the surnames Harding, Hardin, and Harden. The suffix "ing" typically means "son of" in Old English.   Harding is mainly English in origin, Hardin and Harden Irish or Scots.  Harding sometimes lost its "g" in its travels through Ireland and America.

Some believe that the Hardings may also have a Viking connection, being descended from a Viking race from Hardanger in Norway which had settled in Derbyshire.       

Select Harding/Hardin/Harden Resources on The Internet

Select Harding/Hardin/Harden Ancestry

England.  Hardings in England are mainly to be found in the west country. 

Somerset  Harding was recorded in the Domesday Book as landowners in Somerset.  The name fitz Harding appears in Bristol records from the early 1100's.  Robert fitz Harding was a wealthy Bristol merchant later in the century and a favorite of King Henry II (his name is still commemmorated by a pub in the town).  His family held the Berkeley estate on the Severn river.

Wiltshire  Another early Harding line - as traced by Nicholas Royal in his 1970 book Harding Family: A Short History and Narrative Pedigree - was to be found in Wiltshire from the 13th century.  These Hardings were:
  • first the "de Hardenes," foresters of Great Bedwyn
  • then the "Hardinges," tenants of Huish Manor (Richard Hardinge was Groom to the Bedchamber of Charles II)
  • and finally the "Hardings," yeoman farmers at Pewsey.
These farming Hardings produced some remarkable offspring in the early 19th century; eldest son Joseph known as "the father of cheddar cheese;"  younger sons Richard and Isaac, missionaries to Jamaica and Australia; and a daughter Mary who "had a life of much sadness" but raised that prominent Victorian clergyman the Rev. Henry Vowles.

West of England  The Harding name remains common in the west country and in neighboring counties.  Hardings of the 20th century have included Gilbert Harding (born in Hereford), an irascible TV personality of the 1950's, and John Harding (born in Dorset), an English field marshal who governed Malta during the last days of empire. 

Elsewhere  A Harding family was long-established at King's Newton and nearby Bonsall in Derbyshire. 

Harding was for many years a neme of the northeast.  Henry Harding is said to have fought against the Scots and received, as reward, land and a coat of arms.  This Harding seat was at Beadnell near Sunderland.  John Hardyng of this family was the author of Hardyng's Chronicles, written in the 1420's and published in 1543.  These Hardings were prominent in the region in medieval times.  But little of the name remains there now. The last descendant appears to have been a Robert Harding who kept the Golden Lion inn in Newcastle in the early 19th century. 

Ireland and Scotland.  Hardings migrated to Ireland in the 17th century where they settled in Tipperary and east Meath.  Hardins, by contrast, were to be found further north in county Armagh.  The name here dates from the early 1700's.  Sir Henry Hardin was the county's High Sheriff in the mid-nineteenth century. 

Meanwhile, the Scottish Hardens came mainly from Ayrshire where the Scotts of Harden were one of the freebooting border families. 

America.  In America, we find a mix of the Harding, Hardin, and Harden names.  The Hardings would be mainly of English stock, the Hardins and Hardens of Scots, Irish (including possibly Hargans as well), or even of Dutch origin.  Some Hardins in Virginia are descended from Martin Hardwyn (or Hardouin), an early arrival in Staten Island. 

The Hardins almost match the Hardings in their numbers in America.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the Hardings were still mainly to be found in the northeast, New England, New York, and Pennsylvania.  By contrast, the Hardin clusters were (and still are) in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. 

Harding  The first Harding immigrant to New England is believed to be Richard Harding, who is said to have left Weymouth in Dorset with his family on the Charity in 1623.  Later, Abraham Harding, a glover and planter from Essex, settled in Medfield. 

Hardings can also be found from an early date in Barnstable on Cape Cod.  Nathaniel Harding was born there in 1676.  Barnstable was impoverished by the Revolutionary War and the Hardings – the families of John, Archelaus, Jonathan and Nathaniel - moved to Maine

The pedigree of Warren Harding from Ohio, the twenty third President of the United States, has been traced back to these early New England immigrants (although some mischievous press comment suggested that he also had mixed blood from a sea captain of Afro-Caribbean descent).

The Harding name did surface in Virginia.  Thomas Harding arrived there from London around 1660.  Later Hardings were to be found at Tuckahoe Creek and in Goochland county.  At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War Giles Harding left his Goochland farm for new lands in Tennessee.  His son John migrated further south to Arkansas where he started up the Belle Meade cotton plantation.  John’s grand-daughter Selene married the former Confederate General William Jackson there in 1868.  The couple took over the running of the plantation until General Jackson’s death in 1903.

Hardin  Hardins also arrived.  Many moved inland after the Revolutionary War was over.  The Hardin counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, and Texas are testimony to their pioneer spirit.  These were tough and sometime violent men.  William Hardin fled Tennessee to escape a murder charge.  He ended up in Texas, an early settler there and later a respected judge.  However, his nephew, John Wesley Hardin, turned into one of the notorious gunfighters and outlaws of the Old West. 

Australia and New Zealand.  James Harding had emigrated with his family to Western Australia in 1846.  He joined a team to explore the Kimberly region in 1864 but he and two of his colleagues were murdered in the outback by Australian Aborigines.  The event caused a national outrage.  The Harding river in Kimberly is named after another early explorer in the region, John Harding.

The Rev. Isaac Harding went out from Wiltshire in the 1850's as a missionary in the Victorian goldfields.  He later moved onto South Island, New Zealand.  A stern Methodist, it was said that he was stoned from one town and stopped the cricketers' Sunday play in another by pocketing the ball.

The three Harding brothers who came to New Zealand in the 1850's from Southampton were followers of Emanuel Swedenborg and were strong supporters of the Total Abstinence Society.   John became a sheep farmer at Napier while Thomas and William made their homes in Wanganui.   Thomas was a printer and a bookbinder and his son Coupland achieved more success as a journalist and typographer.  William fared well for a while as a photographer but ended his life in poverty.

Africa.  Perhaps the most interesting Harding outpost has been in Sierra Leone.  The Krios of Sierra Leone were Africans taken by Europeans who then returned.  The earliest Harding on record dates back to 1818 when Ali Eisami Gazimabe was renamed William Harding.  Among the present day number are George Harding, the former dean of St. George's Cathedral in Freetown, and Prince Alex Harding, a controversial local politician.

Select Harding Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Harding, Hardin, and Harden Names

Robert Fitz Harding
was a wealthy merchant of Bristol in the late 1100's.
John Hardyng of the Beadnell Hardyngs was the author of Hardyng's Chronicles, written in the 1420's and published in 1543. 
John Hardin
was a pioneer and Indian fighter killed in 1792 in what is now Hardin County, Kentucky.
Henry Hardinge was Governor General of India and commander in chief of the British forces during the disastrous Crimean War.
Warren Harding was the twenty third President of the United States.
Garrett Hardin from Texas, who died recently, is best known for his work and interest in bioethics.

Select Hardings Today
  • 30,000 in the UK (most numerous in Hertfordshire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia) 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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