Recorded in many forms including How, Howe, Hoe, Hoo, the rare diminutives Howan, Howen and Howin, the patronymics Howes, Howson, Howison, and others, this is a surname of Olde English pre 7th century origins. It is either locational from places such as Howe in Norfolk and West Yorkshire, or topographical for a person who lived by a man-made mound or burial barrow. Both derive from the word "hoh" or possibly the Scandanavian Viking "haugr." In some cases the surname may derive from the French personal name Hue, introduced to the British Isles by the Norman French after the Conquest of England in 1066.The surname is 12th century, (see below), making it one of the earliest on record. Other examples of recordings from surviving rolls and charters include Marjorie de Howes in the Curia Regis Rolls of 1167 for Leicestershire, and Robert atte Hou in the Place Names of Yorkshire in 1333. Amongst the early church recordings are Helen Howe who married William Powncett at St. Leonard Eastcheap, in the city of London on January 16th 1550, whilst on December 1st 1771 Mary Howen, a widow, married William Smith a widower, in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of William de Ho. This was dated 1121 in the Danel Law Feudal Documents, for the county of Essex, during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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