I have always been fascinated by language, specifically where it originates and how it adapts, mutates, and relates to other languages. That is why I found the recent series of blogs by Andrew’s Kindred so intriguing. It combined my love of etymology with my love of genealogy. I was so inspired, in fact, that I decided to try my hand at chronicling the origins of our families’ surnames.
This is the eighth installment of a series of posts documenting the etymology of many of our families’ surnames (recent and distant, direct and indirect.)
Now that the G names have been discussed, next up is the letter H:
Hægis (my spouse’s father’s maternal line)
German—This topographic name might be derived from the Middle High German word hac and from the Middle Dutch word haghe or hæg, meaning enclosure, meadow, or hedge. It also might come from the Old Dutch word hægtes or hægtis, which is a supernatural figure much like a witch or Fury.
Häger (my father’s maternal line)
German—This surname originally is derived from hag, meaning hedge or enclosure, and is a topographic name for someone who lived by a hedged or fenced enclosure. Sometimes, it was used as nickname for a thin man, from the Middle High German word, hager, meaning thin or gaunt.
Haie (my mother’s paternal line)
English—The surname Haie was first found in Normandy, where this family held a family seat in the castle and barony of Lahaie-du-Puits in the arrondissement of Coutance from about the year 890. But the annals of the family only start about 1066, when Eudo de Lahaie accompanied William the Conqueror in the Norman Conquest of England. The de la Haie family occupied the areas in and around Sussex, Essex, and Suffolk.
Haliburton (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is of pre-7th Century origins. It is a locational name from the village of Halberton in Devonshire. This is recorded as Halsbretone in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as Hauberton in the 1188 Pipe Rolls of the county. The placename derives from the elements haesel, meaning hazel; bearu, meaning the grove; and tun, meaning a village or homestead; hence, the surname means homestead by a hazel grove.
Hall (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line and my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname, generally is considered to be Anglo-Scottish origin, has several possible sources. It might 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 Old English pre-7th Century word heall, the Old German and later Anglo-Saxon word halla, or even the Old Norse-Viking word holl. All have the same meaning of a large house or building. However, it could also be a locational surname from the villages of Hall in the counties of Carmarthenshire, Lancashire, and Roxburghshire.
Halm (my father’s paternal line)
German—This surname is a metonymic occupational name for a maker of hats or helmets from the Anglo-Saxon word helm, meaning helmet.
Halstead (my mother’s paternal line)
English—The origin of this surname is locational from places in Essex, Kent, Leicester, and in early Yorkshire. It is derived from the Old English elements (ge)heald, a shelter or stable for animals, and stede, a place or building, thus a place of shelter for cattle.
Hamilton (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line)
English—Of Anglo-Saxon origin, this is a locational name from any of the various places throughout England. The name is derived from the Old English pre-7th Century words hamel, meaning bare/scarred/treeless, and dun, meaning hill.
Hammerton (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is locational, usually from the villages of Hamerton near Huntingdon, Kirk and York. The place names according to Ekwall’s Dictionary of English Place Names mean the village on the rock, derived from the pre-7th Century word hamor, meaning a rocky mound. This description may loosely apply to Green Hammerton, which is on a slight escarpment, but both the Huntingdon Hamerton and Kirk Hammerton are on level ground. This suggests that the derivation instead was derived from the word hamm, meaning flat.
Hammond (my father’s maternal line)
English—This surname could be of Norman origin from a personal name Hamo(n), which is generally from a continental Germanic name Haimo, derived from the word haim, meaning home. It could also be from the Old Norse personal name Hámundr, composed of the elements hár, meaning high, and mund, meaning protection.
Hanisko (my stepfather’s family)
Slovak—This surname is probably locational in origin, referring to one of two villages in eastern Slovakia by the name of Haniska. The first village in the Košice-okolie District, and the second is in the Prešov District.
Hanson (my spouse’s father’s maternal line)
English—This surname can be either a patronymic or a metronymic, meaning it may be derived from the name of the first bearer’s father or mother. As a patronymic, it derives from “Han(n)”, a Flemish form of John from the Hebrew Yochanan, meaning Jehovah has favored (me with a son). Hann(e) was a very popular Christian name in 13th Century Yorkshire, appearing frequently in the 1274-1297 Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield.
Hare (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname was most likely derived from the Old English pre-7th Century word hara, meaning a hare or rabbit; hence, this would be a nickname either for a fast runner or someone with stamina The name could also be topographical from the Old English word haer, meaning stony ground.
Harman (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This English comes from mainly the southeast area of the country. Introduced by the Normans after the Conquest, this surname is derived from the Germanic word heer, meaning army, and mann, meaning man.
Harrington (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This is a locational surname from places in Cumbria, Lincolnshire, and Northamptonshire. This surname might have been derived from the Old English word hæring, meaning stony place, or haring, meaning gray wood, plus the word tun, meaning settlement
Hartley (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This is a locational surname for someone who resided in Hartley, Devon, Hampshire, or Kent. It is derived from the Old English word heorot, meaning hart or stag, plus the word leah, meaning wood or clearing.
Haslep (my mother’s maternal line)
English—A variation of the Haslip or Hyslop surname, this surname is derived from the Old English word hæsel, meaning hazel, plus the word hop, meaning enclosed valley or hollow between two hills.
Hasslerin (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
German—This is a topographic name for someone who lived in a place where hazels grew, from Middle High German word hasel, meaning hazel; plus the suffix -er, denoting an inhabitant; plus the suffix -in which denotes the feminine (e.g. female surname Mayerin—the wife of Mayer.)
Hastings (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname might be derived from the Old English tribal name Hæstingas, meaning Hæsta’s people or the family/followers of Hæsta, which was later transferred to their settlement. Another possible origin might be a patronymic surname derived from the Anglo-Norman personal name Hasten(c) or Hastang.
Hatton (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line and my mother’s paternal line)
English—Mainly from the Lancashire area, this locational name from any of the various places named Hatton. This name is derived from the Old English word hæþ, meaning heath or heather, plus the word tun, meaning enclosure or settlement.
Hauer (my spouse’s stepmother’s family)
German—This surname is derived from the Middle High German word houwer (an agent derivative of houwen, meaning to chop. It is an occupational name for a woodcutter, a butcher, or a stonemason.
Hawes/Haws (my mother’s paternal line and my brother-in-law’s family)
English—This surname has at least a couple of possible origins,. The first is locational from the word hause, meaning a neck of land or a place for gathering animals. The second possibility is as a medieval patronymic from of the name Haw, the diminutive form of Hawkin or Havekin, which are derived from the Old English pre-7th Century word hafoc, meaning hawk.
Hay/Hayes (my mother’s paternal line—three lines)
Scottish—This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any one of a number of places called Hayes. It is derived from the Old English pre-7th Century word haes, meaning brushwood or underwood.
Heckendorn (my stepfather’s family)
German—This topographic name is composed of Middle High German word hecke, meaning hedge or fence; plus the genitive suffix -n; plus the word dorn, meaning thorn, Combined this forms the Middle High German word heckedorn, meaning hawthorn.
Heimbach (my spouse’s father’s maternal line)
German—This is a habitational surname from one of the German towns named Heimbach. The word heim means home.
Hendrickson/Hendriksen (my mother’s maternal line)
Dutch—Hendrik is the Dutch equivalent to Henry, so this surname translates into Henry’s son.
Herwig (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
German—This surname is composed of the Germanic/Dutch elements heri or hari, meaning army, and wig, meaning war.
Hepburn (my mother’s paternal line)
Scottish—Although commonly a Scottish name, this surname’s origins lie in the north of England. Specifically, the name is thought to have derived from either the town of Hebron in Northumberland or Hebburn in Tyne and Wear. The origins of the name are suggested to be the same as that of Hebborne from the Old English words heah, meaning high, and byrgen, meaning burial mound. Alternatively, it might be a high place beside the water, as the word burn in Northumbria and Scotland means stream.
Hesketh (my mother’s paternal line)
Scottish—This surname is a habitational name from places in Lancashire and North Yorkshire called Hesketh or from Hesket in Cumbria, all derived from the Old Norse words hestr, meaning horse or stallion, and skeið, meaning race course. The ancient Scandinavians were fond of horse racing and brought it with them to the British Isles.
Hess (my father’s paternal line)
German—This surname is believed to have originally described people who came from the region known as Hesse. The translation of this name is the hooded people; whether this referred to people who made hoods and other garments such as coats and cloaks, whether they habitually wore such clothing; or whether hesse is a transposed meaning, perhaps for warriors who wore a particular type of helmet like a hood, is uncertain.
Hill (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line and my brother-in-law’s family)
English—This surname is extremely common and widely distributed topographic name for someone who lived on or by a hill from the Middle English word hill and Old English word hyll.
Hingston (my mother’s maternal line)
English— This is a habitational surname from any of three places so named. Hingston, Cornwall and Hingston Down in Moretonhampstead, Devon are both derived from the Old English word hengest, meaning stallion, plus the Old English word dun, meaning hil’, whereas the Hingston in Bigbury, Devon is derived from the Old English word hind, meaning a young doe, plus the word stan, meaning stone.
Hitch (my mother’s paternal line)
English—The etymology of this surname might be from the Middle English words hytchen or icchen, meaning to move as with a jerk. The surname Hitch is of uniquely English origin, referring refer to a geographical area called the Hitchins and Hecheham. People living in the vicinity came to be called by their given name with an added suffix meaning of Hitchins or “of Hitch” for short.
Hockensmith (my stepfather’s family)
German—This surname is the Americanized form of German surname, Hackenschmidt, an occupational name for a maker of hoes and axes. This surname is derived from the Middle High German words hacke, meaning hoe or axe, and smit, meaning smith.
Hoffman (my stepfather’s family)
German—The original meaning in medieval times was steward—one who manages the property of another. The word hof means farmyard or courtyard, while the word mann means man, so this could also be an occupational surname for a farmer.
Holand/Holland (my mother’s paternal line, two lines)
English—This is a habitational name from Holland, a division of Lincolnshire, derived from the Old English words hoh, meaning ridge, and land, meaning land.
Hollingsworth (my father’s maternal line)
English—This is a habitational surname from places in Cheshire and Lancashire called Hollingworth, derived from Old English words hole(g)n, meaning holly, and worð, meaning enclosure.
Holmes (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
Scottish—This is probably a habitational surname from Holmes near Dundonald or from a place so called in the barony of Inchestuir. It might also be a topographic name for someone who lived on an island, in particular a piece of slightly raised land lying in a fen or partly surrounded by streams. If this were the case, then this surname might be derived from the Middle English and Middle Low German word holm or the Old Norse word holmr. The Middle English word holm is a variant of holin, which means holly.
Holt (my mother’s maternal line)
English—This surname is topographical, derived from the Old English word holt, which means forest, wood, grove, thicket; wood. It is more common in the Lancashire area than elsewhere.
Holway (my mother’s maternal line, two lines)
English—The roots of the Anglo-Saxon surname are derived from the Old English word hol, meaning hole or hollow, and the Middle English word wei or wai or the Old English word weġ, all meaning the way or path.
Hoo (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—In East Anglia and England, this might be a topographic name for someone who lived on a spur of a hill, derived from the Old English word hoe or hoh, meaning spur of a hill. The surname may also derive from any of the minor places named with this word, such as Hoo in Kent and Hooe in Devon and Sussex. It might also be derived from the Middle English word hoo or Old English word hēo, both meaning she.
Hooper (my father’s paternal line)
English—This is an occupational surname for someone who fitted wooden or metal hoops on wooden casks and barrels, from the Middle English word hoop, meaning hoop or band.
Horner (my brother-in-law’s family)
English—This is an occupational name for someone who made or sold small articles made of horn, a metonymic occupational name for someone who played a musical instrument made from the horn of an animal, or a topographic name for someone who lived at a horn of land.
Houghton (my brother-in-law’s family)
English—A habitational surname derived from the Old English words hoh, meaning ridge or spur (literally ‘heel’) and tun, meaning enclosure or settlement. In Lancashire and South Yorkshire, the first element is derived from the Old English word halh, meaning nook or recess.
Howland (my mother’s paternal line)
English—Of Anglo-Saxon origin, this locational surname comes from any one of the various places in England called Holland or Hoyland in Essex, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire. All these places share the same meaning and derivation—land on or by a ridge, derived from the Old English words hoh, meaning ridge or spur/heel, and land, meaning land.
Hüber/Huber (my father’s paternal line)
Swiss—This is a status surname based on the Middle High German word huobe, meaning a measure of land varying in size at different periods and in different places but always of considerable extent, appreciably larger than the holding of the average peasant. The surname usually denotes a prosperous small farmer and probably one of the leading men of his village.
Hudson (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This interesting Anglo-Scottish surname is a patronymic. It derives from the personal name Hudde, which might be a nickname form of the pre-7th Century Old Saxon name Hugh, meaning mind or heart. Hudde might also be a nickname form of the Germanic and French Ricard or Richard. Finally, it might be from the Old English personal name Huda, which gave its name to places such as Huddington in Worcestershire. In England, Hudson is especially popular in Yorkshire.
Huey (my spouse’s stepmother’s family)
Flemish—In general the spelling as Huey derives from the French-Flemish Huguenot Hue, Huet, and Hughe, from the areas of Bruges, Normandy, and Tournaise and all originating from the pre-7th Century Old Saxon name Hugh, meaning mind or heart
Hüffer/Huffer (my father’s paternal line)
Swiss—From the Germanic personal name Hugifrid, this surname is composed of the word hug, meaning head, mind, spirit, and the word frid, meaning peace. It was a status name for a prosperous small farmer.
Huggart (my spouse’s father’s maternal line)
German—This surname’s origins are unknown. Perhaps it is of Norse origin from the word huggert, meaning cutlass—a short sword with a curved blade. The Old Norse word hǫgg means slash, stroke, cut, as does the Danish word hugge.
Hugh/Hughes (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line and my mother’s paternal line)
Welsh/English—From the Old French personal name Hu(gh)e, introduced to Britain by the Normans, derived from the Germanic word hug, meaning head, mind, spirit. Hughes is the patronymic form from the Middle English and Anglo-Norman French personal name Hugh.
Hull (my mother’s maternal line)
English—This surname has a number of possible origins. It might be of English locational origin from one of the places thus called in Cheshire, Somerset, and East Riding, Yorkshire. The derivation is from the Old English pre-7th Century word hyll, meaning hill. It might also be a topographical name for a dweller on or by a hill. The sound represented by the Old English “y” developed in various ways in the different dialects of Middle English and in the west and central Midlands, it became a “u”, thus the spelling hull evolved.
Hunter (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line)
English—This ancient surname is of Anglo-Scottish origins, derived from the Old English pre-7th Century word hunta, meaning to hunt, with the agent suffix -er, meaning one who does or works with. The term was used not only of hunters on horseback of game such as stags and wild boars but also as a nickname for bird catchers and poachers.
Hurst (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname might have been for someone who lived on a wooded hill, from the Old English word hyrst. Or, this surname might be locational from one of the places named Hurst/Hirst in Berkshire, Kent, Northumberland, Somerset, Warwickshire, Northumberland. or West Yorkshire.
Hussey (my spouse’s father’s maternal line)
English—This surname might be of Norman origin and be locational from Houssaye, a place in Seine-Maritime, whose name is derived from the Old French word hous, meaning holly. Hosie might also be a nickname, a derivation from the Old French word h(e)use, meaning booted, originally denoting someone who wore boots of an unusual design, or it might derive from the Old English pre-7th Century word hus(e)wif, indicating a woman in charge of her own household.
Hutchinson (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is a patronymic and diminutive form of the original personal name Hugh, a Norman-French name with pre-7th Century Old German origins. It is derived from the word hug, meaning heart or soul, plus the additives kin, meaning close relative, and -son, meaning son of.
Well, that’s it for the H surnames… Next up is a two-for-one special…the I and J surnames.