Hardy Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Hardy Meaning
is an English and French surname that is derived from the Old French
word hardi meaning “bold” or
“courageous” or sometimes “foolhardy.” It
probably emerged
initially as a nickname for someone exhibiting those traits.
and Hardie
are the two main spellings of the name.
is the Scottish version.
French Hardys include the 17th century playwright Alexandre Hardy and
the 20th century singer Francoise Hardy.
But the French Hardys are outnumbered by the English Hardys by
more than
two to one. Still, many of the English Hardys may have had
some French blood in them.

Hardy Resources on

Hardy Ancestry

country may bring to mind the county of Dorset and the novels of Thomas
Hardy. But Hardy country should more properly be considered as
Yorkshire where the first English Hardys may have originated and which
has the
largest number of Hardys today.

Yorkshire. An
early Hardy
family of Yorkshire was said to have been descended from the Norman
knight de Hardie
in the 11th century. The first traceable
record was a John de Hardy of Wetwang, Driffield in the mid-1400’s. A later
John de Hardy,
born around
1500 and thought to have been a descendant, made
his mark as a merchant in London and married well
. George
Hardy from his family emigrated to Virginia in 1646.

Hardy Flatts formed part of the Whitwell village in north
Yorkshire. A Widow Hardy was recorded as
choking on a piece of bread near there in the 1500's. Ed
Hardy was a carter in the area in the early
1700's. And Hardys at Thornton Dale at
in north Yorkshire date from the late 1600's.

One Hardy
family in Yorkshire seems to have originated in Westmoreland. These Hardys were first recorded at Kirkby
Lonsdale in 1571 on the death of Edmund Hardy. Their
home was Park House, some two miles
outside of the town. From this line came
the curate and schoolmaster Rev. John Hardy of Kirkburton near
Huddersfield. He subsequently acquired the Birksgate manor house. From this line also came the Rev. Thomas
Hardy, the vicar of Mirfield. The family
history was recounted in Charles Hardy’s 1913 book The
Hardys of Barbon

Hardys in Yorkshire included:

  • Thomas
    Carteret Hardy, a
    colonel in the York Fusiliers in the 1780’s (he may have had Jersey
    roots as
    the Carterets were an important family in the Channel Islands). From his line came the Victorian brother
    and antiquarians Thomas Duffy and William Hardy.
  • while
    John Hardy from humble roots in Horsforth near Leeds (his grandfather
    was a farm laborer there in the 1670’s) became the principal owner of
    the Low Moor
    ironworks near Bradford in the early 1800’s. His
    son Gathorne was a prominent Conservative politician and
    created the Earl of Cranbrook in 1892.
  • and
    John Hardy from the Bradford area in the early 1800’s was the forebear
    of the Hardys
    of Odsal House in North Bierley.

Channel Islands.
There was
a Le Hardy family at Jersey in the Channel Islands ever since
Clement Le Hardy left France for that island in the 1360’s. A later Clement le Hardy was Bailiff of Jersey from
1485 to 1493, but seems to have ended his days in a “verminous prison”
after a disagreement with the Governor.

Jean Le Hardy was the Solicitor General of Jersey in the
1650’s. Via his eldest son John came:

  • Sir Thomas
    , a Rear Admiral of the British Navy who died in 1732
    and had a monument to him erected in Westminster Abbey.

Via a younger son Philip, appointed Commissioner of
Garrisons on the neighboring island of
Guernsey, came Charles
who pursued a career in the British Navy and rose to be Lord
Commissioner of the Admiralty.
Charles was:

  • the
    father of Admiral Sir Charles Hardy, the colonial Governor
    of New York in 1755
  • the
    father of Josiah
    Hardy, the colonial Governor of New Jersey in 1763
  • and
    the grandfather of Temple Hardy, a naval
    captain who saw action during the French
    Revolutionary Wars.

Dorset. Jean Le Hardy
was said to have departed Jersey for Dorset around the year 1490.
Possibly related were the Hardyes recorded at Sydling from about
1540. Thomas Hardye gave his name to the Thomas Hardye school in
Dorchester, completed in 1569. His nephew Francis was the
forebear of Nelson’s flag captain Thomas Hardy
and the writer Thomas Hardy:

  • the
    Hardys of Portersham led to the Captain Thomas Hardy who was
    immortalized by Nelson’s dying words of Kiss
    me Hardy
    at Trafalgar in
  • while
    the line to Thomas Hardy the writer, who was born in Dorchester in
    began with the marriage of John Hardey and Elizabeth Swyre in
    Owermoigne in 1746.

Hardie has been considered to have either Norman, Viking or Celtic
origins. The Viking origin refers to a Viking Hard tribe that had
raided the British coast in the 10th century. The Celtic
explanation came later. It was thought that many
MacHardies in Aberdeenshire shortened their name to Hardie to avoid
reprisals after the Highland defeat at Culloden in 1746. Overall,
the Norman explanation seems the most plausible.

Hardie has been mainly a Lowland Scottish name. William Hardy was
recorded at Lanarkshire in the Ragman’s Roll of 1296. The
spelling changed later to Hardie. One family history began with
the marriage of Robert Hardie and Marion Campbell at Alloa near
Stirling in 1663; another with the marriage of David Hardie and Agnes
Myles near Leuchars in Fife around the year 1690. Matthew Hardie
was a highly-regarded violin-maker in Edinburgh in the early 1800’s,
but he died poor.


Hardy in Ireland was generally a name of English import, mainly found
in Ulster. But there was also a Hardy family of French Huguenot
origin in Ireland. Henry Hardy had first come to London from La
Rochelle in France in the early 1700’s. His family later decided
to settle in Ireland, first in Dublin and then in Cork where Henry
and Marie
made their home.

America. The early Hardys
Hardies in America were covered in Claude and Edwin Hardy’s
1935 book Hardy and Hardie.

New England.
Thomas and John Hardy were thought to have been two brothers who came
to Boston under Governor Winthrop in 1630. Thomas settled first
in Ipswich before moving onto Bradford, Massachusetts. His home
there was known as Groveland.
His descendants were numerous. Meanwhile John made his home in

Hardy name has been perpetuated in Salem in many ways. There is a
Hardy Street, Hardy Rock, Hardy Wharf, and the Hardy House which was
the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne.”

. George Hardy from the Driffield family in
Yorkshire came to Virginia in 1646, followed by his parents John and
Olive twenty years later. He was the owner of the famous Hardy
mill in Isle of Wight county, built soon after his arrival and
continuing in use into the 20th century. The mill remained in
Hardy hands until 1800:

  • Samuel Hardy was a delegate to the Continental Congress in the
    1780’s. Hardy county in West Virginia was named in his honor.
  • Thomas Hardy migrated south with his family in 1785 to
    county, South Carolina
    . The Hardys were to remain on
    plantation home there until 1973.
  • Robert Hardy came to Chatham county, North Carolina around the
    year 1800. His line led to W.H. Hardy, the founder of the
    towns of Hattiesburg and Laurel in Mississippi.
  • while another branch of the family headed to
    James G. Hardy was elected its Lieutenant Governor in 1854 and
    Hardyville in Kentucky was later named after him.

The family story was told in Betty Couch’s 1998 book Our Hardy Heritage.

Hardy, a sea captain, was possibly related to these Hardys. Born
in Virginia, he made his home in Chatham, Massachusetts in 1776.
On one cold winter’s day ten years later, he and his party froze to
death on their boat on their way to Boston. His wife died soon
after and their children became orphans. Remarkably these Hardys
later established themselves as a notable New England family. The

line was covered in Whitney Durand’s 2011 booklet Descendants
of Josiah Hardy

Pennsylvania. There
were Hardys who came later to Pennsylvania.
Their numbers included:

  • Robert
    Hardie who emigrated to Pennsylvania from
    Scotland in the 1740’s. His son Robert
    and grandson David both served with the US Navy, Robert in the
    War and David in the War of 1812.
  • William
    Hardy, reportedly from Ireland, who came
    to Somerset county sometime in the 1770’s. His
    descendants migrated west to Indiana and Iowa.
  • and
    Jonas Hardy, the son of a Leeds woolen
    manufacturer, who arrived with his family at Lycoming city in the early
    1820’s. They moved onto Illinois in 1837

Thomas Hardy

emigrated from Devon to
South Australia in 1850. He is believed
to have been related to the Captain Thomas Hardy of HMS
fame in 1805.

Thomas started a vineyard in South
Australiain 1853 and soon became the acknowledged wine grower in the
region. Thomas Hardy and Sons was his
wine company and his son Robert and grandson Kenneth and great grandson
Robert all
followed in his footsteps. A line also led
to Tom Hardy, killed in an airplane crash in 1938, and his son James
(later Sir
James), a champion yachtsman.

Another Hardy, this time Arthur Hardy from
Yorkshire, came out to South Australia somewhat earlier in 1839. He grew rich in business in Adelaide and was
reputedly one of the town’s wealthiest men in the early 1880’s. However, he later overstretched himself and
fell into debt. Mabel Hardy’s 1959
booklet History of the Hardy Family
told his family story in Yorkshire and Australia.


Hardy Miscellany

Hardy and Hardie Today

following are the approximate numbers of Hardy and Hardie around today.

Numbers (000’s) Hardy Hardie
England and Wales    33     1
Scotland     1     6
America    28     2
Elsewhere    16     3
Total    78    12

Hardy is largely a north of England name, mainly found in
Yorkshire.  Hardie is a Lowland Scottish name. 

John de Hardy, London Alderman.  John de
Hardy came, it was said, from Yorkshire.  He got rich as a
merchant in London.  He was thought in 1522
to have been the second
wealthiest member of the Haberdashers’ Company.

prominence in London brought him
civic prominence.  He lived on Milk
Street and was a neighbor of Thomas More.
He served as Alderman for Aldersgate and then Farrington from
1524 to
1535 and was the Sheriff of London in 1527,
And he had married well.  His wife
apparently was Mary de Stanley who was reportedly of royal ancestry.
This was always a boasting point for later
Hardys of his line.

John died
relatively young.  He had given up his
position as Alderman in 1535, claiming infirmity.  At
that time he had signed a petition
detailing the impoverishing effects of the expenses involved in holding
office in London.  The cause of his death
in 1543 was said to have been poisoning.

Reader Feedback – John de Hardy.  The lineage by Thomas Markham has been disproven for
over three decades. The Herald of the College of Arms in London in 1976
stated that:

  1. There is no proof that
    the John Hardy (1613-1676) was the son of Richard Hardy and Alice
  2. That there is no proof this Richard
    Hardy was the son of the John de Hardy who married Margaret
    Newton, as
    shown on the Wetwang Visitation.
  3. That there is no proof that the John de Hardy was the son of Michael de
    and Alice Skelton,
  4. That there is no proof that this Michael de Hardy was the son of John de Hardy and Mary
  5. That there is no proof of the marriage of John de Hardy and Mary Stanley and no proof that she was a Magna Charta Baron descendant.
  6. That there is no proof of the marriage of John de Hardy and Margaret de la Pole or that she was a Magna Charta descendant.
  7. That the heralds that interviewed the Hardy family members who provided the information for this Wetwand visitation did not do a very good job of researching the material.

This lineage is no longer
accepted by any genealogy society and is not listed in the
newest set
of volumes on the descendants of Magna Charta Sureties.

Hope this helps.  Tom King

Sir Thomas Hardy’s Monument in Westminster Abbey.  The inscription on Sir Thomas’s monument in Westminster Abbey gives some views on the origin of
his family and its history in Jersey.

the West door of the choir, lies interred the body of Sir Thomas Hardy
died on the 16th of August, 1732 in the 67th year of his age; and,
according to
the directions of his will, was buried in the same grave with his wife
died on the 28th of April, 1720.

He was born in Jersey and descended from
Clement Le Hardy, who removed from France and settled in that island
and was
made a Justice (Jurat) there in 1381 and was succeeded in the same
office by
his son and grandson.

great grandson Clement was made a
Lieutenant-Governor and had the office of Bailiff, with the title of
de Mélèche conferred upon him for life by Henry VII as a reward for the
important service he had rendered him.

Earl of Richmond, after the disappointment he had met with in his first
upon England, was separated from the rest of his fleet by a storm and
landed privately in Jersey, intending to stay there until he could
obtain leave
from the French King to come into his dominions.  He was sheltered
at the house
of Clement who protected him and conveyed him safely to Normandy at
the hazard of his own life, notwithstanding that a proclamation from
III to
apprehend the Earl had been published on the island.

descendants have
on all occasions distinguished themselves to the utmost of their power
by their
loyalty and fidelity to the Crown.”

Henry and Marie Hardy in Cork.  Henry and Marie Hardy had ten children.  But one was stillborn,
six died in infancy, and two at the early ages of 15 and 23.  John
drowned at sea in 1769, just off the coast of Maryland; Peter “died in
the East Indies in 1782 with his relative Governor Droz.”  Simeon,
born in 1749, was the only son who survived.  Simeon’s son, also
named Simeon, became a Cork shipowner and merchant who was active in
the sugar trade with the West Indies.

Marie herself had died in 1760, her husband Henry in 1783.  They
were buried in the Huguenot burial ground in Cork. The
inscription read:

burial place of the Hardy family, French Huguenots, was outside this
wall.  One of the first interments was that of Marie, daughter of
Chales Boileau Lord of Castlelmau and the wife of Henry Hardy, who died
on the 17th June, 1760.  And the last was that of John Peter
Hardy, who died on the 14th May, 1868.  Tout Hardi!”

John Peter Hardy was the son of Simeon Hardy, merchant.

Kiss Me Hardy.  It was a famous moment in English naval history.   Admiral
Nelson, England’s greatest naval hero, was dying at the Battle of
Trafalgar on 21st
October 1805.  He had been hit by a musket
ball fired from a French ship at about 1.15pm and he died below decks
4.30pm.  His body was preserved in a barrel of brandy.

details are relevant in attempting to
authenticate whether Nelson ever spoke the famous words “Kiss me
Hardy.”  The best argument in support of
the words
being authentic is the fact that the events surrounding Nelson’s death
on HMS Victory were witnessed by several
people at close quarters, all of whom would have had an intense
interest in it.

were at least three eye-witness accounts recording that Nelson asked
Hardy to
kiss him. The precise words said weren’t recorded verbatim, but “Kiss
Hardy” can’t have differed in any material way from reality.  The witnesses – William Beatty, Chaplain
Alexander Scott and Walter Burke – were shown in Arthur Devis’s
painting The Death
of Nelson

to the
contemporary accounts, Nelson last words were:

care of my dear
Lady Hamilton, Hardy, take care of poor Lady Hamilton.”  He paused
said very faintly, “Kiss me, Hardy.”

Hardy did on the cheek.

then said, “Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty.”

The Hardys of Newberry County, South Carolina.  Thomas Hardy
was the patriarch of the family.
Sometime in the 1780’s, he and his family – his wife Phoebe, his
children, livestock, and some ten or more slaves – made their way on
through the woods from the old home in Virginia to a new home in
county, South Carolina.  They built their
first home there, a log cabin, along the Tyger river.
There followed six generations of Hardys on
this land.

heyday was in the years
prior to the Civil War when their cotton plantation was in full swing
and their
home was a beautiful antebellum mansion with its classic double-tier
portico.   William Hardy and his
family lived like English
gentry at this time, eve4n owning nineteen racehorses.

the Hardy mansion in 1860, there were
forty five slaves, many who adopt d the Hardy name and lived on at the
after emancipation.   Like Gone
the Wind,
there is a wedding on the eve of the Civil War.  In early 1861, William Hardy’s daughter Mira
married John Davis Frost III at the plantation, a milestone social
event at the

was the same afterward.  Months later,
William Hardy’s son Charles and
his Aunt Anna died of typhoid; while his sons Dickie and Haywood joined
Confederate Army along with their cousin Willie Hardy.  Willie
was killed at Manassas.  Haywood became
sick and died in 1864.  Dickie returned
as Captain Dick.

Dick joined the
Knights of the White Camelia, later the Ku Klux Klan, to thwart
“opportunists, some intent on open thieving and others on the legally
sanctioned stealing of speculations and land grabs.”
He served five terms in the state Legislature
and lived into his 90s, but by then the Great Depression had come, “the
final blow to life on the Southern land and to the farm way of life.”

Dick died in 1949, his brother John and
his wife Alice moved in.  They wired the
mansion for electricity, installed indoor plumbing and restored the
house. When
Alice sold it in 1973, just 127 acres of the property remained.

Kibler narrated the family story in his
1998 book Our Fathers’ Fields: A Southern

Thomas Hardy’s Start in Australia.  Thomas
Hardy arrived on the shores of South Australia in 1850 from Devon as a
20-year-old. He went to work for a pioneer vigneron, also from Devon,
Reynell at Reynella just south of Adelaide.

1851 he joined the gold rush to Victoria and, although finding no
gold, his entrepreneurial flair led him to drive herds of cattle from
to feed the hungry miners. Over eighteen months he made a small fortune
and in
1853 bought land at Bankside on the banks of the Torrens river near
married his cousin Johanna, and began his own wine enterprise.

1894 Thomas Hardy
was Australia’s largest wine producer.


Hardy Names

  • Thomas Hardy was the flag captain to
    Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. 
  • Thomas Hardy was an English novelist and poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His novels were
    based in the rural setting of Dorset. 
  • James Keir Hardie was the first leader of the British Labor party, elected in 1906.
  • Oliver Hardy was one part of
    the comic duo of Laurel and Hardy that were popular in America in the 1930’s.

Select Hardy Numbers Today

  • 41,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 30,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Hardy and Like Surnames

Nicknames must have been an early feature of medieval life in a family or community as these nicknames later translated into surnames.  People then lived a more natural life than we do today and the surnames have reflected that.

They could be about color (Brown, Gray, Green etc), whether of hair or complexion or other factors; mood (Gay and Moody are two extremes); youth (Cox and Kidd); speed of foot (Swift and Lightfoot); and actions (such as Shakespeare and Wagstaff).  Then there were likenesses to animals (notably Fox and Wolfe but also Peacock) and to birds (Crowe and Wren for example).  And then there were some extraordinary nicknames such as Drinkwater and Wildgoose.

Here are some of these nickname surnames that you can check out.




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