This distinguished name, also spelt Howels, is a patronymic form of the Old Welsh personal name "Hywel", first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 926 A.D., with the mention of "Huwal West Wala cyning" - Howell, King of the West Welsh. The name translates as "the eminent one" and was popular throughout the Middle Ages and thereafter, in honour of this great law giving King. Known as Howel Dda, or "The Good", his laws survive in Latin manuscripts at Peniarth, and the Welsh "Black Book of Chirk".The Old Breton name Huwel or Howael, introduced direct from Brittany to the Welsh - English border counties, may in some instances have given rise to the surname. One Robert Howeles was recorded in the 1210, Curia Regis Rolls of Northamptonshire, and a John Houeles, witness, in the 1280 Assize Court Rolls of Somerset. On December 23rd 1764, Oliver Howells and Alice Powell were married in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geffrei Hoel, which was dated circa 1100 - 1130, in the "Old English Names Register", during the reign of King Henry 1st, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as 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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