Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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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 / HOWZE 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 study website.

Variant names

We believe that there are at least five major variants of our name: House, Howes, Hows, Howse and Howze. 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 four or five 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.

We'd love to include Howe too, but it would more than triple the size of our study!  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.  Recently, we have become aware of a village just outside of Cambridge, England named Howes, f1rst recorded in the year 1219, which is the first evidence for a locative origin of our name.

In North America, at least, many immigrants' names were anglicized during the immigration process. So there are a considerable number of us who are descended from people with names like Hau, Haus and Huizen mentioned above.

Historical occurrences 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
* the 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 / Howze as possible.  We also add children and grandchildren of people with our name, so that others may more easily find their Howes/etc ancestors.

We attempt to collect data on all life events, and things like occupation, residence, military service, honours, hobbies and so on.

As of July 2015, the study website contains over 800,000 facts on over 100,000 individuals in reconstructed families in our 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 English and Welsh vital record certificates, in the Guild's archive, we have a database of English, Welsh and Scottish register entries from 1837 to roughly 1950, and a set of instructions: here.


The study sponsors two DNA projects too, which DO include names like Attoe, How and Howe. One, no longer accepting business, 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.