Show ContentsHowells History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Howells 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 Howells family

The surname Howells 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 Howells family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Howells 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 Howells History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Howells Spelling Variations

The Welsh have an extremely large amount of spelling variations of their native surnames to their credit. It was up to the priest or the scribe taking the official records to determine how the spoken name was to be made literal. As time progressed, the old Brythonic names of Wales were recorded in English, which was especially problematic since the English language had extreme difficulty recording the highly inflected sounds of Cymraeg. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Howells have included Howell, Howel, Hawell, Howels, Howells, Hovell and many more.

Early Notables of the Howells 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 Howells Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Howells Ranking

In the United States, the name Howells is the 8,919th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2] However, in the United Kingdom, the name Howells is ranked the 529th most popular surname with an estimated 12,508 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Howells family to Ireland

Some of the Howells 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.

United States Howells migration to the United States +

Many Welsh families joined their Scottish and Irish neighbors during the late 1800s and early 1900s in seeking refuge in North America. Like the Irish and Scottish, many Welsh anxiously awaited the work, freedom, and opportunities that they believed lay in North America. Those who did journey over to the United States and what became known as Canada often realized those dreams, but only through much toil and perseverance. Whenever and however these Welsh immigrants arrived in North America, they were instrumental in the creation of the industry, commerce, and cultural heritage within those two developing nations. In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Howells were found:

Howells Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Howells, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1864 [4]
  • William J Howells, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1867 [4]
  • James Howells, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876 [4]

Australia Howells migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Howells Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Phillip Howells, aged 25, a sawyer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Coromandel" [5]
  • William Howells, aged 29, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Monsoon"
  • John Howells, aged 26, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1860 aboard the ship "Ramillies" [6]
  • "Miss Maria Howells, (b. 1806), aged 22, English dairy maid who was convicted in Hereford, Herefordshire, England for life for stealing, transported aboard the ""Competitor"" on 9th June 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia" [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Howells (post 1700) +

  • William Dean Howells (1837-1920), American politician, U.S. Consul in Rome, 1861; Venice, 1861-65 [8]
  • Wallace J. Howells, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan, 1932 (1st District), 1942 (14th District) [8]
  • Richard Howells, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for Ohio State House of Representatives from Mahoning County, 1897 [8]
  • Jonah Howells Jr., American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1964 [8]
  • David John Howells, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Odessa, 1914 [8]
  • David Howells, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1908; Presidential Elector for Pennsylvania, 1916 [8]
  • Anthony Howells, American politician, U.S. Consul in Cardiff, 1897 [8]
  • Tyler Howells (b. 1983), American ice hockey defenceman
  • William Dean Howells (1837-1920), American realist author and literary critic and one of the first seven chosen for membership in the "American Academy of Arts and Letters"
  • Mr. Richard Howells, Welsh coal mine overman working in Tynewydd coal mine in Wales on 11th April 1877, he was awarded the Albert Medal for lifesaving
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Prince of Wales colliery
  • Mr. William Howells (b. 1862), Welsh coal miner who was working at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Abercarn, Wales on the 11th September 1878 when there was a coal mine explosion; he died [9]
  • Mr. Rees Howells (b. 1839), Welsh coal miner who was working at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Abercarn, Wales on the 11th September 1878 when there was a coal mine explosion; he died [9]

  1. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. "UK surname ranking." UK Surname map,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. South Australian Register Tuesday 9th January 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Coromandel 1855. Retrieved
  6. South Australian Register Tuesday 11 January 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAMILLIES 1860. Retrieved
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th March 2021). Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, August 11) . Retrieved from
  9. Entombed in flood and flame (retrieved 3rd August 2021). Retrieved from on Facebook