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

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Select Harding/Hardin/Harden Ancestry

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

Somerset Harding
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 commemorated by a
pub in
the town). His family held the Berkeley estate on the
Severn river.

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
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

West of England
The Harding name remains common in the west country and in neighboring
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 name 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
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
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.

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

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,
Jonathan and Nathaniel – moved to Maine

The pedigree
of Warren Harding
Ohio, the twenty third
President of
the United States, has been traced back to these early New England
(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

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

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
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

Africa. Perhaps
the most interesting Harding outpost has been in Sierra Leone.
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

Select Harding Miscellany

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

Select Harding, Hardin, and

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

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)



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