Howe Surname Genealogy

Howe derives from the Viking haugr
or the Old English hoh, words
for a man-made mound or burial barrow. The surname could come from the
place-name Howe, found near Norwich in Norfolk and in north Yorkshire,
or it could describe someone who lived by such a
Its first recording as a surname was possibly that of
William de Ho in Essex feudal documents of 1121. How was an early
spelling of the name.

Select Howe Resources on The Internet

Howe Ancestry

The 19th century distribution of the Howe name suggests that there
were three main clusters:

  • one in the southwest, around Somerset and Devon
  • the second in the southeast, covering London, Essex and Suffolk
  • and the third in the northeast, notably in Yorkshire and

SW England. John
Howe from a west country family married well in the early 1600’s
and was given estates in Wiltshire by his wife’s family. Later
John Howes were MP’s for Gloucestershire. John Howe married
Annabella Scrope
of Langar in Nottinghamshire. Their
son Scrope Howe was made a Viscount and established his family
there. His son Emanuel Scrope Howe was Governor of
Barbados, but died of disease. However, Emanuel’s wife was in the
bloodline of King George I and she was able to
promote the careers of their three sons:

  • George Howe, General in the British army who was killed in
    America in 1758 during the Seven Years’ War.
  • Richard Howe, Admiral of the Fleet who was in command of the
    British fleet during the American War of Independence
  • and William Howe, the British army officer who
    rose to become Commander-in-Chief of the British land forces in the
    same war.

None of these three brothers left any male heirs.

SE England Essex
had Howes from an early date. The Howes at Buckhurst Hill
in Epping Forest may go back as far as 1357. Howe women
featured in the Essex witch trials of the late 1500’s. Thomas
Howe who made a name for himself in London in the 1640’s came from
South Ockendon in Essex.

Further north in Suffolk, one family
history began with the marriage of John How and Dorothy Hunton in
Rougham near Bury St. Edmonds in 1700, another with the marriage of
Henry Howe and Elizabeth Fuller in Buxhall in 1757.

America. Three early
Howes lines in
New England were:

  • John Howe from Warwickshire who arrived in 1630 and settled in
    Sudbury, Massachusetts. One branch of the family established the
    the Red Horse tavern (made
    famous by Longfellow in his Tales of
    the Wayside Inn
    ). Granddaughter Elizabeth survived three
    years of captivity in Canada where she had been taken by Indians who
    had raided her home. Elias Howe, the inventor of the
    machine, was a 19th century descendant. This
    family was traced in Daniel Wait Howe’s 1929 book Howe Genealogies.
  • Edward Howe, who came on the Truelove
    in 1635 and settled in Lynn. His son Jeremiah moved onto New
    Haven, Connecticut. A branch of the family migrated west to Ohio
    in the 1830’s. Horatio Howe grew up in
    Pennsylvania and moved with his family to Iowa in the 1850’s.
  • and James and Abraham Howe, two brothers from Essex, who came to
    Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1638. James’s daughter-in-law Elizabeth Howe
    got caught up in the Salem witch trials. Meanwhile the family
    line via Abraham Howe went to Joseph Neals Howe, a
    Boston shipowner, and his son Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, an abolitionist
    campaigner. His wife
    Julia composed the words of The
    Battle Hymn of the Republic
    , a song which became popular during
    the Civil War.

The descendants of these three family branches met in 1871 for a
reunion cewlebration at Harmony Grove near

Descended from John Howe of Sudbury was a later
John Howe who became passionately converted to the British cause and
departed New York for Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1780. He was
appointed there the King’s Printer and started the Halifax Journal. His son
Joseph Howe
became one of Nova Scotia’s greatest and best-loved
politicians. C.D. Howe, a powerful Canadian Cabinet minister from
1935 to 1957 who grew up in Massachusetts, was a distant relative of
this family.

and Australia.
The first Howe who came to St. Kitts in the
Caribbean was said to be John Howe from Ireland in 1747.
These Howes became government printers,
starting the St. Christopher Gazette
and Caribbean
. Thomas
Howe was apparently
related to the famous Howe brothers.

His grandson George
was sent to London for training as a printer, but was
tried and
convicted of shoplifting there (rumor has it that he was framed) and
was transported
to Australia. There he started Australia’s first newspaper, The
, in 1803.

early convict in Australia was Michael Howe, transported to
Tasmania in 1812. He escaped and became a famous bushranger, at
large for six years before he was finally cornered and killed in 1818.

Howe Miscellany

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

Howe Names

William Howe was the Commander-in-Chief of the British
forces during the American War of Independence.
Elias Howe was the inventor of
the sewing machine in 1846.
Jackie Howe was Australia’s
legendary sheep shearer, famous for shearing 321 sheep in seven hours
and forty minutes.
Gordie Howe, often referred to
as “Mr. Hockey,” was a Canadian ice hockey player generally regarded as
one of the best to have played the game.
Geoffrey Howe was Chancellor
of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary in Britain in the 1980’s under
Thatcher’s Government.

Select Howes Today

  • 25,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Northamptonshire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 14,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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