When the final definitive history of famous English surnames is written, the surname of Howard will surely be near the head of the list. "Howard" appears no less than seventy-five times in the National Biography and thirty-seven Coats of Arms have been granted to the name holders. The highest heraldic rank in England, "The Earl Marshall" is held by the Duke of Norfolk, whose family descend from Sir William Howard who died in 1308. Lord Howard of Effingham was the victor over the Spanish Armada in 1588, not Sir Francis Drake as is popularly recorded. There are two possible derivations for the name; it may derive from the Norman personal names "Huard", and "Heward", introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066, and adopted from a Germanic name composed of the elements "hug", heart, mind, spirit, with "hard", hardy, brave, strong; or it may derive from the Anglo-Scandinavian personal name "Haward", composed of the Old Norse elements "ha", high and "varthr", guardian. The names "Huardus, Huart" and "Houardus", all appear in the Domesday Book of 1086. In the modern idiom, the surname has many variant spellings, ranging from Howerd and Heward and Huard. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Howarde, which was dated 1221, in the "Rolls of Ely Abbey", Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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