Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Halland, Hayland, Heghelonde, Helland, Heyland, Heylin, Highland, Highlands, Hiland, Hilands, Hilland, Hyland
Category: 3 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way on a global basis.
Guild hosted website:
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/groups/hylands
Contact: Mr David Hylands
Many people have asked me why I started my research. I am not sure but I believe four situations culminated in me writing my first letter.
Firstly, Percy Joseph Hylands, Joe to his friends and Pop to me his eldest Grandchild was a major influence on me during my early teenage years, as he told me many interesting stories of his life in and around the village of East Hoathly in East Sussex. One that I always remembered was that when I took him for granted he would say that I should be grateful for the fact that I had a Grandfather as he had never had one.
Secondly, Pop bequeathed the Family Bible to me upon his death in 1976. This would turn out to be my first problem, as one person had written the majority of the details and dates. Although the day and months were correct most of the years were not.
Thirdly, Alex Haley. Roots, the epic story of his family history is to me one of the great modern stories. Although a number of leading Historians were critical of the book, I believe Alex Haley did much to ignite a challenge for many of us to find our roots.
But finally it was the birth of my daughters, which made me pick up a pen to write a few letters and start a journey which has given me such pleasure and many rewards over the past 40 years.
I took what was in my view a very important decision from the start. I intended to trace the origins of my surname and the social history of my ancestors and I therefore recorded any reference I found to the name Hylands on my computer.
I would regularly visited records offices, libraries and St Catherine’s House in London in the 1980’s, to record and create a spreadsheet which, in 2020, has over 40,000 Hyland(s) references. Once I realised I was undertaking a one name study I joined the Guild in 1988.
I was to prove that I had been the first Hylands of my line to be born outside East Sussex and I was to find that Hylands with an 's' was a relatively new spelling of a very old Sussex name. I would find Pop's grandfather, find an inventor in the family, receive a very old Christmas present and be shocked by another. I would also visit a private graveyard on the other side of the Atlantic where only Hylands are buried and make friends with many people from around the World.
William Hylands, the Grandfather Pop never had, was born in Ripe, Sussex in October 1808 and at his baptism his name was spelt Highland. The Parish entry of his marriage in August 1835 to Lucy Prodger of Arlington indicates how the clerics influenced the spelling of our names. William's surname was spelt with an "igh” and an "s" by the curate but William signed with a "y" and an "s". I have one document from 1870 where the Hylands name is spelt three different ways.
The greatest scope for variation in any name, is the way vowel sounds are written down and the substitution of ‘y’ and ‘i’ in my surname is the most obvious. The other common variation is the presence or absence of the final ‘s’. Names with the terminal '-s' often alternated with forms without it, seemingly randomly. The '-s' seems to have been arbitrarily added to topographical names throughout England. Surnames being with ‘H’ may often lose it and gain it in modern times.
Never under-estimate how names change. The spelling of my surname, Hylands, is less than 150 years old. The Highland spelling is very rare today, yet it was the most common in the 17th/18th century. The surname Hyland, as it is now written, has undergone considerable changes and the variants can be found in records from the 13th century to the end of the 18th Century. They are numerous and sometimes difficult to follow.
The variants of the modern form Hyland and Hylands that I have registered are :-
Halland, Hayland, Heghelonde, Helland, Heyland, Heylin, Highland, Highlands, Hiland, Hilands and Hilland.
There are also others such as Heelan, Heeland, Heghlande, Heiland, Heland,, Heylen, Heylyn, Hillind, Huland, Hylan, Hyliands and Iland, together with a number of deviants, those with spelling mistakes!
From the beginning of my research I sought to establish any link between the Hylands of Sussex and Kent and the Hylands of Ireland as well identifying any link to Scotland.
I have since concluded that there is no direct link between the English and Irish Hylands and that they have two distinct origins. I very quickly concluded that the Hylands name has no link to the geographical Highlands of Scotland.
In England, the Hylands are believed to descend from Norman extraction and the original form of the name appears to be Heland or Helland with the pre fix ‘de’ and sometimes ‘de la’.
The meaning is believed to be ‘Dweller by the hay-land or high-land’, Old English hèg or hèah and land. The surname is local ‘at the hayland’ the enclosed land, hedgelands. There is a view that Hyland is a variant of Hayland, in England, but not in Ireland.
In South East England, I believe the name Hyland(s) to mean "Man of the Weald", Weald being the geological and wooded area of the Sussex Downs.
The origins of the Hylands in the north west of England and the lowlands of Scotland is very dominantly, if not defiantly, from across the Irish sea and Ireland.
In Ireland, I believe the Hyland name originated in the Gaelic O’Haolain which means ‘heir’, ’of the race of’ or ‘descended from’ O’Faolain (Phelan), from the word ‘foal’ meaning wolf.
Following the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland the British felt it was essential to eradicate Gaelic names and in 1465, a statute was enacted to make every Irishman change and anglicise their name.
The Hyland surname was adopted as an anglicisation of their name by people bearing the Irish surnames ÓHylan(d) and ÓhAoiléain, themselves variants of ÓFaoláin (Phelan), a sept which was originally located in Co. Waterford and spread into Co. Kilkenny.
The old Irish surname ÓFaolain, became ÓHaoeain in the Connacht area and anglicised to ÓHeelan, ÓHilane, ÓHuylan which were shortened to Heelan in Munster, and Hilan(d), Hylan(d) now most numerous in County Mayo.
ÓHaolain was anglicised to OHealane, OHillane, OHyland, OHeolane, OHoolaine, OHolane, OHollan, OHolland, Heelan, Helen, Hillane, Hillan, Holian, Heyland, Hiland, Hylan, Hyland, Holland and Whelan, adapted from ÓFaolain by the common practice of changing the ‘F’ to ‘H’.
The ÓHaolains were most numerous in Offaly and Leix. In Munster the ÓHaolains name was pronounced Heellan, while in Leinster it became Hyland and in Ulster, Holland was most common. In Connacht, Hillane, Hyland and Holland were changed to Whelan as a result of pronunciation.
It is also said that some of the Phelans and Whelans, upon immigration to North America, adopted the name Hyland when they changed from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant faith.
A Dictionary of English Surnames by P H Reaney and R M Wilson.
A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames by C W Bardsley.
English Surnames: Their Sources and Significations by CW Bardsley.
The Surnames of Ireland by E MacLysaght.
A History of British Surnames by R McKinley
Know Your Surname article by John C Downing.
The Hyland Family History by Lloyd and Elsie Hyland.
The Family of Hyland by T A Glenn.
In the 15th year of the reign of Henry VIII (1522), the year he met Anne Bolyn, John Heyland a freeholder of Yalding, Kent acquired land at Ticehurst, Sussex. John had 2 sons of whom we have found records Richard of Waldron, Sussex and John of Ticehurst. It was Richard's descendent who settled in America and I am a descendant of John of Ticehurst, Sussex. I was to prove that I am the first of my direct line to be born outside the County of Sussex, since 1522.
Early references to the Hylands name in England are
At Wrotham in Kent, in the ninth year of the reign of Edward II (1316), Feet of Fine, reference is made to William de la Heghelonde and Christina his second wife and Margery de la Heghelonde, William’s daughter from his first marriage.
The Norman Rolls of the sixth year of Henry V (1418-19) refers to Joan de Montmorency, Lady of Hellande and Mary de Hellande, Abbess of St Pol and the Abbess and Convent of the Monastery of St Amand of Rouen. The following year (1419-20) reference is made to the segeantry of Basqueville which were of Robert Hellande, Chivaler (Knight), who had, it would seem, forfeited the same by rebellion. In the same rolls we find a grant to Nicholas Hellande, Norman.
In Ireland, Philip Hywlan was burgess of Carrick-on-Suir in 1338 and was followed by others of the varied spelling of the name.
John Hyland was a public notary in Waterford in 1508.
In North America, at Elk Neck, Maryland, John Hyland held 250 acres of land named Highlands. He acquired a further 2,305 acres for his estate in 1685.
In Virginia, Jon Hyland acquired land by headright in a 1705 Essex County land grant.
Lt. John Hyland of Maryland served in the American Revolutionary Army.
The first United States Census in 1790 listed the spellings Hylan in North Carolina and Hyland in Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Thomas Turner was a key figure in the Sussex village of East Hoathly in the eighteenth century where he was shopkeeper, undertaker, schoolmaster, tax collector, church warden, overseer and much besides. However, it was his diary of eleven colourful years in the life of the Georgian village, which made him famous. In 1985 I read an article about the work of Professor David Vaisey of Bodleian Library, Oxford. He had edited the diaries, which were to be published in time for Christmas. The shock and delight at reading this book made it a Christmas to remember.
The Diary from 1754 to 1765, contained the day to day details leading to the marriage of George Hylands and Ann Durrant on 28th February 1757. I am grateful for Thomas Turner’s actions in forcing George and Ann to the altar as they had a full life and fathered 14 children, from whom many Hylands of today are descended.
A search, as early 1981, of Picton Library in Liverpool, made me aware of the existence of a book published 1929 entitled "The Family of Hyland" by T. A. Glenn. It was a further 3 years before I was able to read it as only 2 copies were know to exist in this county, one at the British Library in London and the other at Cambridge University.
Mr Glenn wrote the book on the request of Walter H. Dilks of Harmony Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, America and tells the story of the Hyland's of Philadelphia and formerly of the Counties of Sussex and Kent. It was full of dates and details from 1270 to 1920. John Hyland, the eldest son of Nicholas and Sarah Hyland was born circa 1639. He arrived in the New World in 1665, the year of the Great Plague.
The Office of National Statistics in the UK has a database contains almost 270,000 surnames shared by 54 million people 2002.It shows that there were 4,407 living Hyland and ranked 1,815th most common name in England and Wales; together with 534 Hylands and 297 Highland.
Civil Registration indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths
England and Wales -1837-1945
Scotland – 1855 - 1955
England & Wales 1911
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland states
This table below shows the number of occurrences of the combined Hyland, Hylands, Highland and Highlands surnames for the top 10 counties with the highest occurrences. It also shows the number per 100,000 of the county population and the calculated density.
No. per 100,000
The map shows the distribution by County, based on the 1881 Census.
The distribution of the Hyland surname in the south east of England, particularly in Sussex and Kent and separately in the north west of England in Lancashire, up into Cumbria and onward to the Scottish Lowlands shows the split of the name into two main areas of the country.
I have established that the origins of those in the north west of England and the lowlands of Scotland is very dominantly, if not definitively, Ireland.
There are clear regional variations in the spelling of the Hyland surname,
In Cumbria, the only spelling in Cockermouth is Hilland and it is unique to the town. In Whitehaven it is always spelt, Hyland and in Ulverston it is only spelt Highland.
In Glasgow and Govan in Lanarkshire, Scotland it is very dominantly spelt Highlands.
These maps show the distribution of the four main spellings of the surname, based on the 1881 Census.
Again based on the 1881 Census, this map show the distribution of the surname Hyland, Hylands, Highland and Highland across East Sussex and Kent in each Poor Law Union.
This map shows early Hyland marriages upto 1837 in Sussex and clearly shows that there were very few in West Sussex and that name was dominant in East Sussex.
(Source: SFHG – The Sussex Marriage Index)
Based on the combined Hyland names, we can see the distribution in each Poor Law Union in Lancashire, at the time of the 1881 Census.
According to the 1901 Census in Ireland, there were 2,237 individuals with the Hyland surname and it was ranked 358th.There were 502 Hyland in Connacht, 1,244 in Leinster, 329 in Munster and 162 in Ulster.
Over many years I have collected and recorded data on all Hyland(s) variants, Worldwide from archives, correspondence, publications and the Web including:-
Civil registration - England and Wales, births, deaths and marriages 1837 to 1945 with the marriages available via the Guild Marriage Index. Scotland, births, deaths and marriages 1855 to 1955 and Ireland marriages 1845 – 1863.
Probate Index for England and Wales from 1858 to 1945, together with other Wills.
Numerous Parish Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials from across the UK.
Census records for England and Wales from 1801 to 1911, Scotland census records from 1851 to 1911 and the 1939 England and Wales Register.
Various other records such as American Civil War Soldiers, American Immigrants, Australian Convicts, Australian Pioneer Register, Sussex Record Society and UK Monumental Inscriptions.
Information and records provided by over 150 individuals Worldwide and publications from around the World including the IGI (International Genealogical Index)
Over 4,000 individuals have Hyland(s) interests on Ancestry.
At present my DNA is linked to my Hylands DNA tree on Ancestry and I also use Family Tree DNA for my DNA Research.
Following a 111 Marker Y-DNA test my Haplogroup is predicted to be R-M269.
An analysis of my DNA confirms my research with an ethnicity estimate of England, Wales and North Western Europe of 89%, with connection most likely through ancestors linked to the Surrey, Sussex, Devon and Cornwall in England. The analysis also shows potential links to Ireland and Scotland of 7% and an unidentified Germanic Europe link of 4%. However, the England ethnicity could be 100%.
The HYLANDS DNA Project welcomes support and participation from all HYLAND(S), HIGHLAND(S) and variant researchers and we encourage you to join today!
The project is just getting started and we currently have member with interests from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand and USA.
We hope to make many discoveries and provided information to add to our paper records, which will help with our family history research. We will hope discover which family trees are related and provide information about the evolution of the surname from its various sources.
The surnames in the HYLANDS DNA Project are researched as part of the HYLANDS one-name study of the Guild.
If you wish to take part in our DNA project follow the link HYLANDS DNA Project.
Please don't forget to visit my website at hylands.one-name.net
Also go to the Guild of One-Name Studies Global Marriages Index and enter Hyland or Hylands to view over 3600 marriages between 1837 and 1945.
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: