Hovell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Hovell are thought to have lived among the ancient Britons, who inhabited in the hills and Moors of present day Wales. This particular surname was derived from the Welsh personal name Hoel, which was originally derived from the Old Welsh name Houel. This name was imported by Welsh settlers into the English counties bordering Wales; however, in the eastern English counties, the name was brought by Breton settlers. The Breton forms of the name were Houuel, Huwel, Huwal, and Howael.

Early Origins of the Hovell family

The surname Hovell was first found in Monmouthshire (Welsh: Sir Fynwy), where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Vychan Howel that is, Howel the Little (d. 825), was a Welsh prince, said to have been son of Rhodri, a reputed descendant of Cunedda and King of Gwynedd, or North Wales. "But Rhodri died in 754, and nothing is heard of Howel or of his brother Cynan whom the tenth-century genealogy of Owain ab Howel Dda makes son of Rhodri, until over fifty years later. Possibly they were Rhodri's grandsons, who emerge from obscurity when the downfall of the Mercian overlordship gave Welsh kings a better chance to attain to power. In 813 there was war between Howel and his brother Cynan, in which Howel conquered. It apparently arose from Cynan driving Howel out of Anglesey, and resulted in Howel's restoration in 814. In 816 Howel was again expelled, but the Saxons invaded Snowdon and slew Cynan. This probably brought Howel back again. He died in 825. The name Vychan comes from a late authority." [1]

Dda Howel, that is, Howel the Good (d. 950), the most famous of the early Welsh kings, was the son of Cadell, the son of Rhodri Mawr, through whom his pedigree was traced by a tenth-century writer up to Cunedda and thence to 'Anne, cousin of the Blessed Virgin.' [1]

Howel ab Ieuav, or Howel Ddrwg, that is, Howel The Bad (d. 984), the North Welsh prince, was the son of Ieuav, son of Idwal, who was imprisoned and deprived of his territory by his brother Iago about 969. [1]

Howel ab Edwin (d. 1044), the South Welsh prince, was son of Edwin, son of Eineon, who was the son of Owain, the eldest son and successor of Howel Dda [q. v.] [1]

Early History of the Hovell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Hovell research. Another 100 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1300, 1313, 1588, 1650, 1644, 1645, 1625, 1679, 1657, 1660, 1593 and 1666 are included under the topic Early Hovell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Hovell Spelling Variations

Welsh surnames are relatively few in number, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. There are many factors that explain the preponderance of Welsh variants, but the earliest is found during the Middle Ages when Welsh surnames came into use. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, which often resulted in a single person's name being inconsistently recorded over his lifetime. The transliteration of Welsh names into English also accounts for many of the spelling variations: the unique Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh had many sounds the English language was incapable of accurately reproducing. It was also common for members of a same surname to change their names slightly, in order to signify a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations. For all of these reasons, the many spelling variations of particular Welsh names are very important. The surname Hovell has occasionally been spelled Howell, Howel, Hawell, Howels, Howells, Hovell and many more.

Early Notables of the Hovell family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Rt. Rev. Thomas Howell (1588-1650), Welsh Bishop of Bristol from 1644 to 1645, born in Llangamarch, Brecknockshire; Francis Howell (1625-1679), Principal of Jesus College, Oxford from 1657 to 1660; and James Howell (c.1593-1666) famous writer who lead a colourful life...
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Hovell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Hovell family to Ireland

Some of the Hovell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Hovell family

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in search of land, work, and freedom. These immigrants greatly contributed to the rapid development of the new nations of Canada and the United States. They also added a rich and lasting cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Hovell: Owen Howel settled who in Virginia in 1635; David Howel settled in Barbados in 1654; Humphrey Howel settled in Virginia in 1698; Morgan Howel settled in Virginia in 1653.


Contemporary Notables of the name Hovell (post 1700) +

  • Sir Ellis Hovell Minns (1874-1953), British academic and archaeologist


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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