H is for… a Genealogy Study– Part One


The more I research surnames, the more interested I get. I find myself hearing someone’s last name and wondering what it means, and if they know what it means. Usually, they do not, and it’s a fun exercise to quickly Google it to find out.

Here’s the first part of my ‘H’ surnames. There were more than I expected, so I thought I’d divide it up. Enjoy!

For previous letter studies:

   A   |   B   |     |     |   De   |   E   |   F   |   G   |



hackett-irish-crestThis unusual name has two possible origins, the first of which is from an Olde Norse byname, ‘Hali’, in Olde Danish ‘Hake’, given originally to someone with a hooked nose, and popular in medieval England as ‘Hack’ or ‘Hake’. A number of surnames were generated from this source, Hackett and Haggett being diminutive forms of the name, recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Hako’ and in 1218 as ‘Hacke’, while Haket de Ridefort is recorded in Lincolnshire in 1160. The modern surname can be found as Haggett or Hackett, and in fact the two forms are found side by side in some medieval recordings, as in Rolland Haget or Haket (1158, Yorkshire). The Coat of Arms most associated with the family was granted to Sir Thomas Hackett, Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1688; descended from an ancient family long settled in Ireland and has the splendid blazon of a red shield thereon three silver hakes haurient in fesse, on a gold chief three trefoils slipped proper. The crest being, out of a mural coronet argent, an eagle displayed with two heads sable, with the motto; Spec mea Deus.

Halenbeck/ Hollenbeck

The name Hollenbeck is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from a place name found in Yorkshire and Derbyshire: Hallam. In Yorkshire, Hallam is found in the South Riding. Further research reveals that the name is derived from the Old Scandinavian word hallr, or from the English word hall, both of which mean stony. The place name means ‘the stony place, place of rocks’. In Derbyshire, there is a place called West Hallam and another called Kirk Hallam. These names are derived from the Old English word halh, which meant ‘remote nook of land’. This surname dates back to the 8th century.



This interesting surname is of English locational pre 7th-century origin. It derives from the various villages so called, although the meanings vary in different parts of the country. The villages called Halford in Devonshire and Warwickshire, derive from the old English halh meaning a recess or hollow in the ground plus forda, a shallow river crossing. Halford in Shropshire derives from hafocere, an early word for a merchant, which suggests that merchants gathered at this place and possibly established a market.

Halighwell/ Halliwell


This interesting English surname with spellings including Hallawell, Hallewell, Helliwell, Holliwell, and Hollowell is of locational origin. It derives from any of the several places named with the Old English pre 7th Century elements halig meaning “holy”, plus “well(a)”, a well or spring. A Coat of Arms granted to the Halliwell family consists of a gold shield with three silver goats trippant, and attired in gold, on a red bend.



This ancient surname generally considered to be Anglo-Scottish, has several possible sources. These are that it may be a topographical name for someone who lived at or near a large house called a Hall, or that it could be an occupational name for a person who was employed at such a place. In this case, the derivation can be either from the Olde English pre 7th Century word heall, or the Old German and later Anglo-Saxon halla, or even the Old Norse-Viking holl. All have the same meaning of a large house or building. However, it can also be a locational surname from any of the places called Hall. These include the villages of Hall in the counties of Lancashire, Carmarthenshire, and Roxburghshire.


This famous and distinguished surname, with a total of one hundred entries in the “Dictionary of National Biography”, and having no less than ninety-five Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places throughout England named with the Olde English pre 7th Century hamel, bare, scarred, treeless, with dun, hill. These places include: Hamilton in Leicestershire recorded as “Hameldon” in 1220, and Hambledon in North Yorkshire, appearing as Hameldon” in records of that county, dated 1290. The noble Scottish family of the name, which holds many titles, including the Marquessate and Dukedom of Abercorn, and the Earldom of Haddington, are descended from Walter FitzGilbert de Hameldone, a Norman baron who gave his support to Robert the Bruce in the 13th Century. However, some bearers may derive their name from the town of Hamilton near Glasgow, founded by the Hamiltons, rather than from being members of the Norman family mentioned above.

(De) Harcort

This name is of locational origin either from the town and ancient chateau of Harcourt near Brionne in Normandy so called from the Olde French ‘cour(t)’ meaning a court, plus an obscure first element, or from Harcourt near Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire. Recorded as Havretescote in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as Havekercot in ‘The Hundred Rolls of Shropshire’ dated 1274, the name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century haforcere, a hawker or falconer, plus ‘cot(e)’, a cottage hence ‘the falconer’s cottage’. Another place called Harcourt near Wem in Shropshire; recorded as Harpecote in the Domesday Book, derives its first element from the Old hearpere, a harper.

(De) Harley

Recorded in several forms including Airlie, Airly, Earley, Hearley and Harley, this is an English surname. It is locational from either of the two places now called Harley in the counties of Shropshire and Yorkshire. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century words hoer, meaning rocks, or hara, the hare, but probably in this context a personal name, and leah, a fenced enclosure or farm, to give the translations of either “Hare’s farm”, or “the farm by the rocks”.


This unusual and interesting surname has a very ancient history. It is one of the Norman forms of the Germanic personal name “Hermann”, composed of the elements heri, hari meaning army, plus man, man. A Coat of Arms granted to a Harmon family is silver, in base a red crescent issuant therefrom a green rose branch, blue flowered. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus Hermannus, which was dated 1141 – 1149, in the “Records of Holme”, Norfolk, during the reign of King Stephen, known as “Count of Blois”, 1135 – 1154.



This distinguished surname, with thirty entries in the “Dictionary of National Biography”, and having no less than forty Coats of Arms, is of early medieval English origin. It is a patronymic form of the medieval male given name Harry, itself a pet form of Henry, from the Old French “Henri”, via the Old German “Haimric”, composed of the elements haim, home, and ric, power. Introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066 in the form “Henri”, the name became enormously popular and was borne by eight kings of England. It appears as “Henricus” in the Domesday Book of 1086, and subsequently generated a great variety of diminutive and pet forms including Herry, Harry, Hann, Hal, and Hankin.


This ancient and interesting surname has two possible origins; firstly, it may be from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Hereweald”, its Old Norse cognate “Haraldr” or the Continental form “Herold” introduced to Britain by the Normans. These all go back to a Germanic personal name composed of the elements heri, hari meaning army, plus wald rule. Secondly, it may be an occupational name for a herald, deriving from the Middle English “Herauld”, Old French “Herault”, and is composed of the Germanic element heri, hari plus “wald”, as before, used as a common noun.


This ancient surname, which is one of the earliest on record, is of English and Irish origin. It is also well recorded in Scotland, although the origin is as for England. The name has two possible sources, the first being from the Breton personal name “Aeruiu” or “Haerviu”, composed of the elements haer, meaning battle, and vy, – worthy. The second source is Irish, although in fact, most nameholders in Ireland do descend from English settlers, it is said that a Galway clan called originally the O’hairmheadhaigh, did ‘anglicise’ their name to Harvey or Harvie. The Gaelic translates as ‘the descendant of the son of Airmed.


The surname Hassal was first found in Cheshire at Hassall, a village and civil parish in the Borough of Cheshire East which dates back to at least the Domesday Book where it was listed as Etshale as land held by William Malbank. At that time it was part of the Middlewich Hundred and was land enough for two ploughs. The Place name literally means “the witch’s nook of land”; derived from the Old English haegtesse + halh.


hatch_largeThis interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the places called Hatch in Bedfordshire, Hampshire, Somerset, and Wiltshire; the place in Hampshire near Basing is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as “Heche”. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word haecc, a hatch, the meaning is generally “a gate” (especially one in or leading to a forest). However, the name may also be of topographical origin for a dweller by a gate or hatch, from the same derivation.


The surname Hauk was first found in Bavaria, where the name Hauk was anciently associated with tribal conflicts of the area.


The history of the Haven family begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Derbyshire, where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Nether Haddon, and before that, they resided in Avenelles in the department of Eure, Normandy


This ancient and distinguished surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and may belong to any of three distinct surname categories. Firstly, Hawke may derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century male given “H(e)afoc”, Hawk, originally a byname denoting a fierce, rapacious person, or one with a large hooked nose. “Hauok” (without surname) was recorded in the 1066 Winton Book of Hampshire, and an Osbertus filius (son of) Hauoc was noted in the 1115 Old English Byname Register of Oxfordshire. The second possibility is that Hawke is a metonymic occupational name for someone who bred and trained hawks, from the Middle English hau(l)k, haueke (Olde English heafoc). Hawking was a major medieval sport, and the provision and training of hawks for a feudal lord was a not uncommon obligation in lieu of rent.


These definitions came from housofnames.com and surnamedatabase.com, and all graphics were taken from Google and belong to the owners.


2 thoughts on “H is for… a Genealogy Study– Part One

  1. Another great surnames post, Amanda. I find it so reassuring that I am not the only one who when he/she hears “someone’s last name…wonders what it means…” It looks like we share the Hall, Hamilton, and Harmon/Harmen surnames.

    1. Because of my inlaws’ business, I get to meet people from all over the world, and everyone seems to have interesting names. 🙂

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