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Our 2,743 members have registered
2,395 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

HAWKE was my mother's maiden name and a considerable amount of research had been done on it by my family over the years, mainly from family lore and documents. I started working on it about 15 years ago and then decided to do a ONS for that name. I didn't realise how much work it would involve! But is is really interesting to see how the HAWKEs have circled the world and I regularly have contact with others researching this surname.

Variant names

HAWKE is the most common spelling, but it is often HAWK even after around 1840. Prior to that, parish records can have the spelling HAUK, HOKE, HAULK, HAUCK, and quite a few other possibilities. In most cases, they become HAWK(E) in later records.
I do not consider HAWK(E)S a variant, though it occasionally occurs. This surname has a somewhat different distribution.

Name origin

The majority of HAWKEs can trace their families back to Cornwall, where the name was already well established in the 1500's, and Devon. However, there are other pockets, especially in Yorkshsire, Lancashire and London, that could well have started from different roots.
The name HAWKE comes possibly from the look of an early ancestor - a hawk-like nose or expression, or his attacking or grasping nature! Or it may be from his trade, breeding or looking after hawks (though this could as easily have given rise to HAWKER) There are a number of places in Cornwall with HAWKE in the name, but I believe these would have come from a family who lived there, rather than the other way round.

Historical occurrences of the name

The most famous HAWKE was Edward (1705-1781), Admiral of the Fleet, who saved England from a French invasion in 1759 at Quiberon Bay, and was subsequently created the 1st Baron HAWKE of Towton in 1776. He was elected as an MP for Portsmouth from 1747-76.
The 7th Lord HAWKE was the well-known Yorkshire cricketer, Martin Bladen HAWKE (1860-1938).
More infamous was William HAWKE (1738-74) who was hanged at Tyburn following many years as a highwayman. However, he was something of a Robin Hood, often giving help to his victims rather than robbing them, and he rarely used undue force to rob his victims. He apparently left a wife and two children, but no names are given and I have not been able to place him in a tree.
And of course one should not forget Robert James Lee "Bob" HAWKE AC, GCL, the Australian politician who was the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Labor Party from 1983 to 1991.

Name frequency

I have 1658 entries from the UK 1881 census (inc. variants), and 1528 entries (HAWKE only) on the 2003 UK electoral roll, which shows that, despite many emigrations, the numbers in the UK remain steady.  This makes HAWKE a medium-sized one-name study, with plenty of scope for expansion - your help here will be much appreciated.

Distribution of the name

The UK 1881 census shows a distinct preponderance of HAWKEs in Cornwall (46%), Devon (12%), Yorkshire (10%) and London (9%). The rest are scattered over England, with a few in Wales (under 2%) and none in Scotland.
Current distribution is more even over the British Isles, though there are still 24% in Cornwall, 9% in Yorkshire, 8% in Devon, 7% in Lancashire and 16% in London and the Home Counties.
There are large numbers in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as many other places around the globe.


To date I have on file over 50 separate HAWKE trees and I have data to do many more when time permits. I have been helped enormously by other HAWKE researchers who have kindly shared their work with me.
I have transcribed most of the UK BMD from 1837-1920, and most of the 1841-1911 census records (though of course nowadays this information is readily available on internet). I have these in a format where I can quickly cross-check any particular name or family.
I also have many parish records, especially for Cornwall, though there are gaps to fill. I have copies of all the Cornish wills and others from the PCC., some extracted and some fully transcribed.
I am gradually collecting overseas data - USA, Aus, NZ, etc. - as well as emigration data, but mainly where it links with UK trees.


I have been the co-ordinator at FamilyTreeDNA for the HAWKE DNA project since June 2012. There was already a HAWKS DNA study and we aim to exchange results as there is a certain amount of overlap between the two surnames and their alternatives, especially outside the UK. See more details at, where you can join the project and kits can be ordered.  Kits are also available through the Guild of One-Name Studies at a reduced price - please contact me for details.