Howell Surname Genealogy

from the Welsh personal name Hywel
meaning “eminent” or “prominent.” It was
borne by Hywel Dda or Howel the Good
who became King of Wales in 926. He was
known for codifying the Welsh law under which Wales was governed for
centuries. Many later Howells have claimed descent
from Howel the Good
Howell’s early presence was in Monmouthshire. The
name, although Welsh in origin, was thus
to be found in both the Welsh and English border counties.
The main surname spellings today are Howell and Howells,
the patronymic Howells
being the more common spelling on the Welsh side.
The Howell name also has separate English
origins, from the place-name Howell found in Lincolnshire and derived
from the
Old English hugol meaning “mound” or

Select Howell Resources on The Internet

Howell Ancestry

Wales. The Howell name first
established its presence
in Monmouthshire. Howel was a son of
Oeni who became known as the Prince of Caerleon-upon-Uske in
Monmouthshire. By
the early 1300’s the name had become firmly established in Monmouth and
across the English-Welsh border where Howel held lands as well. David and Philip Howel were recorded as the
Lords and Prince of the manor in Monmouth in 1313.

This line does not seem to
have continued in Monmouthshire. But the
Howell name was found there later in Thomas Howell, a merchant from the
who died around 1540 and left a Thomas Howell charity.
Thomas and James Howell, Royalists at the
time of the Civil War, also claimed a Monmouthshire pedigree.

The Howell and
Howells name extended westward across south Wales into Glamorgan,
Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

One Howell family were said to have lived at Nantymoel
in Llangyfelach parish, Glamorgan
since the 1300’s. However, they adopted
the Howell surname late. Howel Roger was
the freeholder there in 1764 and his grandson was the Rev. Roger
Howell, born
in 1774, the local Nonconformist minister.

In Carmarthenshire there were Howell

  • Maesgwynne in Llanbody parish, from the early 1600’s until
    when Walter Rice Howell, unmarried, died.
  • and in the village of Gwynfe, starting
    with Samuel Howell in the late 1700’s.

Howell was a
Quaker from Castle in Pembrokeshire who emigrated to Pennsylvania in

England. Not all Howells in England
have Welsh roots
or connections. A few have English origins.
It was said that William Marshall, the first
earl of England, raised a small army of Howells in Lincolnshire in the
century to defeat an insurrection in that county. Later,
the Howell name was more likely to
crop up in Norfolk than in Lincolnshire.

Most Howells instead were to be found
in the border counties, such as Gloucestershire and Shropshire (where
Howell was the mayor of Oswestry in 1785) or later in Lancashire. The
of the Westbury manor at Marsh Gibbon in Buckinghamshire had Welsh
ancestry. William Howell had purchased
the estate in 1536. His grandson Edward
sold it in 1638 and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

America. John Howell was perhaps the earliest Howell
arrival in America, leaving persecution in Pembrokeshire for Virginia
in the
1620’s and making his home in Henrico county.
Later Howells of his line migrated to North Carolina and Georgia. Joseph Howell, who was born in Edgecombe
county, North Carolina in 1735, died in DeKalb county, Georgia at the
age of
102. His grandson Evan Howell later
recounted his family

line from Edgecombe county went to Atlanta, Georgia where Clark Howell
prospered as a businessman. His son Evan
acquired an interest in the Atlanta
newspaper in 1876. Evan’s
son Clark Howell was a prominent state politician and for fifty three
years was
the editorial executive and owner of the Atlanta

Edward Howell from
Buckinghamshire was
one of the early English settlers on Long Island, arriving in 1640 and
to found the Southampton colony. His
descendants were there at the time of the Revolutionary War. They were also in New Jersey where the Howell
farm was first established in Cumberland county in the 1740’s and is
operating today after ten generations.

This Howell line is thought to have
extended as well to Morristown, New Jersey where Aaron Howell lived in
1740’s and David Howell was born in 1747.
David moved to Rhode Island and was active in civic affairs
there until
his death in 1824. His son Jeremiah was
US Senator for Rhode Island from 1811 to 1817.

Quaker John Howell, “a native of the ancient walled city of
came to Philadelphia in 1697 and died there in 1721. His son
Jacob and grandson
John were both tanners, the latter migrating south to Savannah, Georgia
he died in 1765. However, the main Howell numbers remained in the
area and included:

  • Colonel
    Jacob Howell, a clerk of the Pennsylvania Board of
    War in 1778
  • Arthur
    Howell, a prominent Quaker preacher who died in 1818
  • and
    Colonel Joshua Howell who died in battle in 1864 in the Civil War.

family history was captured in Frances Howell’s 1897 The
Book of John Howell and His Descendants.

Reynold Howell, also from
Wales, acquired land near Newark, Delaware in 1724 and settled there. One of his grandsons Lewis was a surgeon
during the Revolutionary War, but died of fever during the conflict. His other grandson Richard Howell survived
the war and served as Governor of New Jersey from 1794 to 1801.

Richard was the grandfather of Varina Howell,
the second wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
She had been born in Mississippi after her
father had moved there in the 1820’s.

“In 1843 Jefferson Davis was a handsome
35 year old widower and a
wealthy plantation owner; Varina Howell a 17 year old from an
impoverished family whose father had gone bankrupt more than a decade
ago. She was
not considered attractive, being tall and thin with the olive
complexion of
her Welsh ancestors. Yet they met at a Christmas party and
married two
years later.”

South Africa. James
Howell’s origins are uncertain. He was a naval victualling clerk
when his ship arrived in the Cape colony in 1806. Two years later
he married Maria Eksteen and they raised a family in Cape Town where he
worked as a librarian.

Australia. Richard
Howell had arrived from Gloucestershire with his parents as a young boy
1840. When he grew up he became a
Methodist preacher who was known as “Hellfire Dick.”
He made his home at Devon Park in Dunkeld,
Victoria. Samuel and others of his sons
preached. Samuel’s son Richard
as a missionary in the Belgian Congo for thirty years.

New Zealand. John Howell
come to New Zealand on a whaling ship around 1828 when he was just
eighteen years old. He ran a whaling station at Waikouaiti on
Island for twenty years until the whaling industry’s decline. He
became a substantial landowner in the area.

Howell Miscellany

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

Howell Names

known as Howel the Good,
was the King of Wales from 925 to 950.

James Howell
a 17th century Anglo-Welsh historian and writer, perhaps the first
to make writing the main means of livelihood.
He held
title of Historiographer

Richard Howell
the third Governor of New Jersey from 1794 to

Clark Howell

was a prominent
Georgia politician and, from 1883 to 1936, was the editorial executive
owner of the Atlanta Constitution
Geraint Howells
was a Welsh farmer and politician, active in Liberal party circles
in the 1970’s and 1980’s

Select Howells Today

  • 39,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glamorgan)
  • 44,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 17,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply