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Our 2,719 members have registered
8,802 study surnames with us.
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About the study

Hello. Welcome to the HOWES one-name study. We have four fundamental aims: * to help individual family/clan members break through brick walls in their research * in particular, to help emigrant families trace their home coutnry roots, most notable of which is to establish the English roots of Thomas Howes, who emigrated to America in 1637 * to bring together HOWES / HOUSE / HOWS / HOWSE families from around the world, and add to the sum of knowledge about our family names * to examine whether there are common roots between the four study surnames If you are willing to help, or just lend your support, please do visit us at our website

Variant names

We believe that there are at least four major variants of our name: House, Howes, Hows and Howse. If you go to the website and click on Scope and/or Distribution at top-right you can learn more. It's very important to realize that there are multiple instances of people whose names were recorded in different ways at different times. We have found several people whose names were spelled all four different ways. We take fixed spellings of surnames for granted today. It wasn't always this way. There are other potential variants too, such as Howe, Attoe, Hau and Haus (both from Germany) and Huizen (from the Netherlands), Housse (Belgian) at least. Attoe used to have its own one-name study. I'd love to include Howe too, but there aren't enough hours in the day for me on my own. If you are interested in the Howe name and/or would like to join forces, do get in touch. We would be only TOO glad to hear from you.

Name origin

On the study's website, you can find a page called Distribution, where you can see maps of the main UK variants of our name from the 1891 census. When you put them side-by-side, it is very clear that: * the surname comes from Southern England, and more particuarly from the chalk/limestone hills of Southern England, from Norfolk, NorthEast of London, down the Chiltern Hills and West to the Cotswolds, thence around Somerset to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire to Hampshire and Sussex. * each of the areas dominated by one of the variant spellings fits neatly against each of the others. * this pattern still existed in 1891, just after the point where spellings were pretty much established because most people could read and write. We expect that maps made from earlier censuses will show an even more distinct pattern. So we conclude that our name mainly derives from the Saxon word Hoo meaning hill and has simply been pronounced differently in each place due to the heavy regional accents in Southern England. Educated people such as clergymen wrote the names down slightly differently in each place and those spelling distinctions have stayed in place. In North America, at least, many immigrants had their names anglicized during the immigration process. So there must be a considerable number of us who are descended from people with names like Hau, Haus and Huizen mentioned above.

History of the name

The study website contains a suite of pages dedicated to notable people named Howes, House, Hows and Howse. This page contains, among others: * two Victoria Cross winners * a movie actress * two Major-Generals * the inventor of the Spirograph and the E-Z-Bake oven * a British member of Parliament * a man who sold his circus to P T Barnum * the last man off the battlefield of Balaclava and many others

Name frequency

We estimate that there are close to 50,000 people alive in the world today with one of our four surnames. Of these, about one-half live in North America, about 40% in the UK and the rest mostly in Commonwealth countries.


The website attempts to collect as much data on people called Howes/House/Hows/Howse as possible, and on their descendents, whether male or female, ie, no matter what their surname today. We attempt to collect data on all life events, and things like occupation, residence, honours, hobbies and so on. As of September 2012, the study website contains over 450,000 facts on over 64,000 individuals. As of December 2011, we have over 52,000 people in reconstructed families in the fully searchable database. Not all of them are available to public viewing, however, because we maintain a 100 year rule for confidentiality reasons. We are always interested in adding to this data. Please do get in touch if you can share anything, no matter how small it may seem. To help people apply for certificates, we have a database of English, Welsh and Scottish register entries from 1837 to roughly 1940.


The study sponsors two DNA projects too, which DO include names like Attoe, How and Howe. One is at here and covers Howe, Howes and Howse and the other is at here covering House, Hows and other variant names. We hope to make further changes over time. With a massive potential population we need LOTS of participants. Will you join us? If, like members of the Howes Family Association in the US, you aren't sure where your forebears came from, you really need to take a test. Sooner or later someone in the 'old country' or even elsewhere will happen along and take the same test, perhaps stimulated by us and get the same results as you. When that happens, you will have big pointers as to where to concentrate your research.
Name: Paul Howes


Paul Howes


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