Guide to North East Surnames: H

Surnames: Hackworth to Hutchinson

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Hackworth surname

Northern surname

Not an especially common surname at the time of the 1881 census with only 134 individuals in Great Britain and found mostly in County Durham where there were 47 people of this name. Others could be found in Northumberland where there were 17; in London there were 27; Surrey 8; Lincolnshire 7; Sussex 7 and Yorkshire 6 with smaller numbers scattered across England as well as 4 in Ayrshire in Scotland.

A notable Hackworth was the Wylam-born railway engineer, Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850) who is principally associated with the County Durham town of Shildon. The surname perhaps derives from Ackworth near Pontefract in Yorkshire.

Sans Pareil replica, Shildon
Replica of the Sans Pareil, a locomotive designed by Timothy Hackworth at ‘Locomotion’, Shildon © David Simpson,

Haggerston surname

Rare Northern surname

This surname only occurred 49 times in the 1881 census and was most numerous in County Durham where there were 18 individuals. There were 7 in Northumberland; 8 in London; 4 in Yorkshire and others spread thinly across England. The name derives from the place in Northumberland. A Thomas Haggerston was recorded as the owner of Haggerston Tower (Haggerston Castle) in a list of Northumberland towers and castles compiled in 1415 and the family had later associations with Ellingham.

Hall surname

Widespread surname, numerous in the North

A very widespread surname in England. Hall referred to someone who lived or worked at a hall. Early individuals of the name include Warin de Halla in 1178 and a Roger de Hall, 1327 though both of these were in the south of England. In the North the Halls included Border Reiver families in the Scottish valleys of Teviotdale and Liddesdale and in Redesdale, Northumberland.

River Rede near Elishaw
A Redesdale scene © David Simpson

In Redesdale the Halls were accompanied by the Milburns, Potts, Storeys, Reeds and Hedleys (see below), while the Robsons and Charltons also lived nearby. Across the border lived the Armstrongs and in Liddesdale the Croziers who were at feud with the Redesdale family called Reed. Parcy Reed, the leader of the Reeds was the Keeper of Redesdale and his appointment aroused the jealousy of the Halls who cunningly invited Parcy to join them on a hunt, knowing that a Crozier raid was imminent. Parcy was invited to the home of the Halls where, unknown to him they jammed his sword in its scabbard and dampened the workings of his gun.

The next day Parcy and three Halls set off hunting and stumbled upon a raiding party of Croziers at the Carter Bar. As keeper of Redesdale, Parcy felt he must stand up to the Scottish raiders but the Halls refused to assist. In the words of ‘The Ballad of Parcy Reed’ the Halls explained:

‘We mayna stand, we canna stand,

We dairna stand alang with thee.

The Croziers had thee at a feud

And they would kill baith thee and we’ .

Riding forth alone to challenge the Crosiers Parcy failed to release his sword and his gun would not fire. The bloodthirsty ballad claims the Crosier’s left poor old Parcy with thirty three wounds and no hands and feet. For centuries the treachery of the Halls was despised throughout the Border country.

Hall : Border Reiver surname
Hall : Border Reiver surname © David Simpson

In distribution, the surname Hall stretches far beyond the Border Country. There were 88,846 Halls living in Great Britain in the 1881 census and the name may derive from more than one or several locations. In England the counties with the biggest numbers of Halls were Lancashire (11,852); Yorkshire (10,296); London-Middlesex (7,951); Durham (6,561); Staffordshire (4,290); Surrey (4,108) and Northumberland (3,677). There were 4,441 Halls across Scotland.

In that census Hall was the 8th most numerous name in Northumberland and 8th most numerous in Durham too. It was the 17th most numerous surname in Yorkshire and also 17th in Lancashire. In Westmorland it was the 26th most numerous name but did not make it into the top fifty names in Cumberland.

Henry Guppy considered the Hall surname to be spread across England but with particular concentrations in Northumberland and Durham and another group he identified in Derbyshire and its neighbouring counties.

Notable Halls from the North East include businessman Sir John Hall and the script writer Lee Hall.

The name Hall has often occurred amongst the names of influential dignitaries in the region. An Edward Hall was the MP for Newcastle in 1553 and mayors of Newcastle have included a Richard Hall in 1434 and 1436 and a William Hall in 1624.

William Hall was the name of the mayor of Durham in 1605, 1611, 1613, 1618, 1619, 1622 and 1631. John Hall was the name of the mayor in 1644, 1645, 1650, 1651, 1656. It was also the name of the Durham mayor in 1670, 1674 and 1832. Anthony Hall was the name of the Durham mayor in 1700, 1705 and 1710 and the name of the mayor of Hartlepool in 1787.

Harbottle surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

Harbottle is a North East surname associated with Northumberland, referring to a person from Harbottle in Coquetdale. In the 1881 census there were 724 Harbottles in Great Britain and the surname was most numerous in Northumberland, its county of origin, with 243 individuals. There were 171 people called Harbottle in Durham and the name also occurred in Yorkshire with 178 individuals, although the spelling there was often rendered as Hardbottle or Hardbattle.

Harbottle village
Harbottle village © David Simpson

A Robert Harbottle was an MP for Northumberland in 1407 and in a list of towers and castles of Northumberland compiled in 1415 Preston Tower near Ellingham in Northumberland was under the ownership of a Robert Harbottle. Harbottle Castle itself was under the ownership of the Umfravilles.

Harbottles seem to have strayed into Yorkshire quite early as the name Richard De Herbotell features in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York in 1323. A Thomas Hardebotyll appears in a list of wills proved in the Consistory Court of Rochester in Kent and a John Harbottle gets a mention in connection with Ipswich in Suffolk in 1543.

Harrison surname

Widespread surname, numerous in the North

Widely distributed across England, Harrison is more northern in distribution than Harris, a name of similar meaning, which was according to Henry Guppy more prominent south of a line drawn between Lincolnshire and Cheshire. For Guppy, Harrison was most numerous in Westmorland, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

In 1881 there were over 67,000 people called Harrison in the Great Britain census. It was the 6th most numerous name in Westmorland; 10th in Yorkshire; 11th in Lancashire; 15th in County Durham; 20th in Cumberland and 36th in Northumberland. The name of course means son of Henry (Harry).

Some of the ancestors of Catherine (Kate) Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, were Tyneside and County Durham coal miners by the name of Harrison.

Click on the image below to see the family tree of the Duchess and its North East connections.

Harrison family tree Kate Middleton
Harrison and Liddell family tree Kate Middleton

CLICK on above image (then zoom in) to see family tree © David Simpson

Harker surname

Predominantly a Yorkshire surname

A surname identified by Henry Guppy as having its home in the North or East Riding of Yorkshire. This surname seems to be associated with the northern parts of Yorkshire.

Of the 3,202 Harkers in Great Britain in the 1881 census Yorkshire was home to 1,241. There were 524 Harkers in Lancashire; 499 in County Durham; 121 in Cumberland and 51 in Northumberland. There were 75 in Scotland with the remaining Harkers spread across England particularly in London and the south east. The name appeared in Yorkshire at least as early as fifteenth century and is thought to derive from an old word meaning ‘eavesdropper’.

Harland surname

Predominantly a Yorkshire surname

Listed by Henry Guppy as a surname of the North or East Riding of Yorkshire, this name seems to have been particularly associated with North Yorkshire. There were 2,638 Harlands in the Great Britain 1881 census with 1,261 in Yorkshire and 324 in Durham. In Lancashire there were 119 and there were 46 in Northumberland with many of the rest focused upon London and the south east.

An early occurrence can be found in Warwickshire in 1221 and the surname is thought to derive from either Harland’s Wood in Sussex or Harland Edge in Derbyshire though an alternative idea is that it means ‘dweller by the boundary wood’.

Harle surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

North East England surname and especially County Durham but Northumberland in origin. A Northumbrian family called De Herle were noted in the thirteenth century and originated from the place called Harle in Northumberland (near Kirkharle). Harles were historically owners of land at East Matfen. In 1415 a John Herle is recorded as the owner of the Tower of West Harle to the west of Kirkharle.

The Harle surname is listed by Henry Guppy as ‘peculiar’ to Northumberland though in 1881 it was most numerous in County Durham. There were 679 people called Harle in the 1881 Great Britain census with 248 in Durham; 191 in Northumberland; 43 in Yorkshire and 16 in Lancashire. There were only 14 people called Harle in Scotland. Most of the remainder lived in London and the south east.

Kirkharle © David Simpson

Haswell surname

Predominantly a County Durham name

A North East surname especially on Tyneside and in County Durham. Likely from the village of Haswell near Durham though there are places called Haswell in Devon and Somerset. Of the 999 Haswells in the Great Britain census in 1881 there were 315 residing in County Durham; 86 in Northumberland; 78 in Yorkshire; 78 in Scotland and 30 in Lancashire with the rest distributed mostly across the midlands and south east.

Haswell Colliery Engine House
Remains of a colliery engine house at Haswell © David Simpson

Havelock surname

North East surname

A name focused upon the North East and North Yorkshire. The name seems to have Viking origins. There were 242 Havelocks in the 1881 Great Britain census, mostly living in the North with 94 in Durham; 47 in Northumberland; 24 in Yorkshire; 14 in Cumberland and 6 in Lancashire. The name derives from a Viking personal name. The best-known Havelock was the Sunderland-born nineteenth century army General, Sir Henry Havelock.

Hazelrigg or Haselrig surname

A notable name of the Civil War

This surname is probably derived from the place in north Northumberland to the west of Belford. A Sir Arthur Haselrig became the notorious Governor of England north of the River Tees following the Parliamentarian victory over the Royalists in the English Civil War.

An Alan De Hesilrig is mentioned in the Assize Rolls for Northumberland in 1279. A Thomae de Essilrige is listed as the owner of a tower house at Eslington near Whittingham in 1415. In later years the family were closely associated with Swarland in Northumberland, a seat of the family noted in the Northumberland Visitation of 1615.

The only Hazelriggs in the 1881 census seem to be the family of Sir Arthur Grey Hazelrigg (1812-1890) who were resident in Leicestershire.

Headlam surname

Durham and Yorkshire surname

Derived from the place called Headlam between Darlington and Staindrop, there were 164 people of this name in the 1881 census of which 66 resided in Yorkshire and 41 in Durham. The only other place where it was significant was London with 27 individuals. Other Headlams were spread thinly across the counties especially in the south.

Hedley surname

Border Reiver family North East England surname

A North East surname almost overwhelmingly focused upon Northumberland and Durham. In the 1881 Great Britain census there were 3,076 Hedleys with 1,241 in Northumberland and 1,097 in County Durham. It was the 48th most numerous name in Northumberland but did not make it into the top fifty names for any of the other northern counties.

Yorkshire was home to only 172 Hedleys and Lancashire 122 in the 1881 census despite these two counties being much more populous than Northumberland and Durham. Most of the remaining Hedleys resided in London and the south east.

Notable North Easterners have included the nineteenth century artist Ralph Hedley and nineteenth century Puffing Billy locomotive engineer William Hedley (1779-1843) who was born at Newburn on Tyne and worked as an engineer at Wylam Colliery. The surname derives from a place called Hedley in either Durham or Northumberland (Hedley-on-the-Hill) meaning ‘heather-ley’ a clearing in which heather grows.

Mayors of Newcastle have included a John Hedley in 1777; a John Hedley in 1788; a Robert Shafto Hedley in 1799 and a Thomas Hedley in 1863.

Headley (a Yorkshire surname)

A similar surname, Headley occurring in much smaller numbers than Hedley, accounted for 825 individuals in the 1881 census and like Hedley was predominantly northern with 324 individuals in the northern counties. However, this name was most significant in Yorkshire where there were 200 people with this name compared to 40 in Durham; 36 in Northumberland; 26 in Cumberland and 22 in Lancashire. In Scotland there were 30 Headleys with the remainder in the south east and London.

Hedworth surname

Durham surname

Hedworths were owners of land at Harraton on the north bank of the River Wear near Washington at a site that later became Harraton Hall where Lambton Hall and later Lambton Castle were subsequently built.

In Bishop Hatfield’s survey of 1377-1380, the Hedworth family are strongly connected with the medieval borough of Sunderland. The family took their name from Hedworth near Jarrow but inherited Harraton through marriage to a member of the Darcy family in 1416. In the Visitation of Durham in 1575 a John Hedworth has his family seat at Haverton.

The Hedworths owned land at Urpeth, Moorhouse, Jarrow and at Herrington near Sunderland. Harraton was an important early coal mining centre and provided significant revenue for the family.

Lambton Castle
Lambton Castle

In the 1590s a John Hedworth married a Jane Belasis and their sons formed two separate branches of the family with one at Harraton and another at the Deanery near Chester-le-Street where that particular branch came to be known as the Dean Hedworths. The unofficial title ‘dean’ was bestowed upon them. One ‘Dean Hedworth who died in 1747 was a Durham MP who established ‘Dean Hedworth’s wagonway’ that brought coal from Pelton to Chartershaugh and Fatfield on the River Wear by 1710.

As for the Harraton branch, this family fell on some financial misfortune and before 1696 there was no male heir to their Harraton estate when a Dorothy Hedworth married Ralph Lambton that year and from then on the land on that side of the river became Lambton land.

Hedworth was a relatively rare surname in the 1881 census with all the individuals by county as follows: Durham 62; Lincolnshire 36; Yorkshire 7; Cheshire 6; Leicestershire 6; Lancashire 4 and 1 in each of Northumberland and Nottinghamshire.

See also Lambton

Heighington surname

Surname of Northern origin

This surname likely derives from the village of Heighington in County Durham. The surname occurs in the form Heyghington in Bishop Hatfield’s survey of Durham (1377-80) in connection with Newbiggin, Redworth and Middridge. A John Heighington was the mayor of Durham in 1625, 1629, 1636 and 1637. In the 1881 census this was a very rare surname with only 40 individuals in Britain of which more than half resided in Northern England (15 in Yorkshire and 6 in Durham). The others were found in Surrey, Sussex, London and Bedfordshire.

Heighington © David Simpson

Henderson surname

Border Reiver family surname Mostly a Scottish surname

Primarily a Scottish surname found especially on the Scottish east coast but also significant in Northern England. There were 32,887 Hendersons in the Great Britain census in 1882 with 19,573 in Scotland. In the North of England there were 3,416 in County Durham; 2,611 in Northumberland; 1,429 in Lancashire; 1,039 in Yorkshire; 557 in Cumberland and 68 in Westmorland.

Henderson means ‘son of Henry’. It was the 17th most numerous surname in Northumberland and 24th in Durham in 1881 but was not amongst the top 50 names in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumberland or Westmorland.

The Durham carpet factory as it appeared in the 1880s
The Durham carpet factory as it appeared in the 1880s

A George Henderson was mayor of Newcastle in 1700 and a William Henderson (a carpet maker) was mayor of Durham in 1848. The Carpet making Hendersons were important figures in the city of Durham in the nineteenth century. A John and Gilbert Startforth had established a carpet factory in the city in the 1780 but it fell bankrupt during the Napoleonic wars.

By the 1820s a carpet factory was re-established in the city by Gilbert Henderson of Kirk Merrington and the business continued to grow in the hands of his widow and sons John and William Henderson. It was William Henderson, mayor of Durham, who constructed the town hall and indoor markets in the city’s market place. In the early twentieth century the factory came into the hands of former employee Hugh Mackay. Carpets continued to be manufactured in Durham until 2005.

A George Henderson was mayor of Durham in 1904 and 1918.

Hepburn surname

Scottish surname Northumberland origin

This mostly Scottish surname originates from Hepburn near Chillingham in Northumberland with which it was connected from at least the late thirteenth century. In early forms both the place and the surname often occurred as ‘Hebburn’ and the family of this name were holders of the sixteenth century Hepburn Tower or Bastle House up until its abandonment in 1755. There does not appear to be any link with Hebburn on Tyneside.

Hepburn Bastle
Hepburn Bastle near Chillingham © David Simpson

The Hepburn surname became firmly established in Scotland from the fourteenth century and was later associated with the Earls of Bothwell. In the 1881 census there were 2,675 individuals called Hepburn in Great Britain of which 1,936 resided in Scotland. Hepburns were thinly scattered across England with only a tiny presence in the midlands, Wales and south west.

Of the Northern English counties Durham was home to 137 Hepburns in 1881; Northumberland home to 57; Cumberland 15 and Yorkshire, despite its large population, was home to only 20 Hepburns. The populous county of Lancashire was home to 93 Hepburns with several heads of households being Scottish-born. Similarly there were 179 individuals in populous London with 86 in neighbouring Surrey.

Hepple and Heppell surnames

Northumberland and Durham surnames

Both variations of this surname are listed by Henry Guppy as surnames peculiar to Durham but ultimately the name comes from the village of Hepple, in Coquetdale, Northumberland.

It is still primarily a name of North East England and the distribution of the two variations indicates that they were divergent forms of the same name. In the 1881 census there were 1,286 Hepples / Heppells in Great Britain of which 555 lived in Durham; 386 in Northumberland; 126 in Yorkshire; 25 in Lancashire; 23 in Cumberland and most of the remaining individuals in London and the south east.

Hepple, Coquetdale
Hepple, Coquetdale © David Simpson

Herdman surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

A North East England surname. Listed by Henry Guppy as a surname peculiar to Northumberland. There were 922 Herdmans in the 1881 census. Of these, 222 lived in Northumberland; 160 in County Durham; 70 in Lancashire; 36 in Cumbria and 27 in Yorkshire. There were 231 Herdmans found in Scotland with most of the remaining individuals in the English midlands. The name of course describes a herdsman or shepherd of some kind.

Heron surname

Northumberland Border Reiver family surname

Found predominantly in North East England and especially Northumberland but also in south west Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Early forms of the name Heron include de Hairun, de Harum and Hairun. It is thought that the name may have more than one origin. Some forms are believed to derive from a nickname ‘Heron’ refering to a tall, thin man with long legs, like a Heron. In the north the name is closely associated with Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire and Scotland and it is likely that these Herons were originally de Harum, or de Harome and originated from Harome near Helmsley in North Yorkshire.

In the twelfth century branches of the Heron family held land at Chilton in County Durham; Hadston in Northumberland and around Northallerton in North Yorkshire. Many Herons held positions of high status in the north, including the thirteenth century William Heron, who was the Keeper of Bamburgh Castle in 1248; the Keeper of Scarborough castle in 1255 and Sheriff of Northumberland between 1246 and 1257.

Ford Castle
Ford Castle © David Simpson

The historian Matthew Paris described William Heron as a man who ‘ground down the poor and oppressed the monks’. In the days of border warfare Herons held land throughout Northumberland but were most closely associated with Ford Castle near the River Till in North Northumberland.

In 1415 in a list of castle and towers of Northumberland, the following fortifications were held by Heron family members:

  • Meldon Tower near Morpeth : Nicholas Heron
  • Crawley Tower near Powburn : Sir John Heron
  • Eshott Castle (between Alnwick and Morpeth) : Sir John Heron
  • Twizell Castle near the Tweed : Sir John Heron.
  • Ford Castle near the River Till : Sir William Heron
  • Simonburn Tower North Tynedale : Sir William Heron
  • Whittingham Tower in Whittingham : Witts Heron
  • Chipchase Tower (now Chipchase Castle) : Alexander Heron
  • Howick Tower (now Howick Hall) : Emercit Heron (Herringe)

A William Heron was an MP for Northumberland in 1371 and a Sir John Heron was the county’s MP in 1379. A Sir Gerard Heron was the Northumberland MP in 1391, 1393, 1394, 1397, 1401 and 1402 and a George Heron was the MP in 1555. Emericus Heron (Herring) was the MP for Newcastle upon Tyne in 1421. The name also occurs in Durham, a John Heron being mentioned in connection with Newton (Newton Hall) near Durham in Bishop Hatfield’s survey of 1377-80 as well as at Boldon. The 1575 Visitation of Durham notes a Lionell Heron of East Thickley near Shildon.

The Herons have an interesting connection to the Battle of Flodden Field. On August 22nd, 1513, eighteen days before the battle, King James IV of Scotland entered England and captured a number of Scottish castles including Ford, where during his stay he is said to have had an affair with the beautiful Lady Heron. The pretext for the Scottish invasion of Northumberland was the murder of Robert Kerr, a Warden of the Scottish East March, killed by the Northumbrian John ‘the Bastard’ Heron in 1508, who was a relative of the Herons of Ford.

Heron : Border Reiver surname
Heron : Border Reiver surname © David Simpson

In the 1881 census there were 2,883 Herons in Great Britain with the majority residing in Scotland and the northern counties of England. Scotland was home to 1,184 Herons. In the North of England, Durham was home to 385 Herons; Lancashire 311; Yorkshire 294; Northumberland 245; Cumberland 43 and Westmorland 7.

Heslop surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

A North East surname and especially Northumberland and Durham. Notable in the Hexham area in the seventeenth century. The nineteenth century Northumbrian dialect expert Richard Oliver Heslop is a notable.

Few names have such a Northern England focus as Heslop in the 1881 census. Of the 2,573 Heslops in that census only 74 lived in Scotland while 2,274 resided in the six northern counties of England. Top of this list was Durham with 1,080 Heslops followed by Northumberland with 558; Yorkshire 347; Cumberland 168; Lancashire 148 and Westmorland 53. The rest were spread across England and Wales and the Isle of Man and 92 lived in London.

Hislop surname mostly Scottish

The variations Hislop and Hyslop dominated in Scotland. Of the 1,808 Hislops in the 1881 census there were 1,409 residing in Scotland. In the North of England their numbers were as follows: Durham 93; Lancashire 69; Northumberland 52; Yorkshire 16; Cumberland 13; Westmorland 1 with 97 of the remaining 231 Hislops residing in London. A significant proportion of the heads of household across England gave their birthplace as Scotland.

Hyslop surname mostly Scottish

Hyslop is another Scottish form of the name which Henry Guppy considered a Dumfriesshire name. Of the 1,753 Hyslops in the 1881 census there were 1,176 residing in Scotland. In the North of England their numbers were as follows: Lancashire 185; Cumberland 34; Northumberland 19; Yorkshire 17; Durham 15; Westmorland 1. Of the remaining 286 spread across the country 78 were residing in London. As with Hislop, a significant proportion of the heads of household across England gave their birthplace as Scotland.

Hetherington surname

Surname of Cumberland and the North East

A surname of Cumbria and the North East. It is a Border Reiver family surname. In 1881 there were 4,075 Hetheringtons (occasionally with the variation Heatherington) in the Great Britain census. There were 1,107 resident in Cumberland; 590 in Northumberland; 565 in Durham; 501 in Lancashire; 309 in Yorkshire and 49 in Westmorland. In Scotland there were 390 individuals.

Most of the remaining Hetheringtons resided in London and south east England. Hetherington was the 23rd most numerous surname in the county of Cumberland in 1881 but did not make it into the top fifty surnames in the other northern counties of England. The surname comes from a place (a farm) called Hetherington to the west of Wark in North Tynedale.

Hetherington : Border Reiver surname
Hetherington : Border Reiver surname © David Simpson

Hildreth surname

Durham surname

This unusual surname occurred 320 times in the Great Britain census where it was most prominent in County Durham with 104 individuals, followed by Yorkshire with 97. There were 14 in Lancashire; 9 in Northumberland and 1 in Cumberland. Scotland was home to only 3 people of this name with the remaining 92 mostly found in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and the south east.

Hindmarsh surname

Northumberland surname predominantly

Listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in Northumberland, it is recorded in the thirteenth century with a mention of a Walter Hindmers of Mitford in Northumberland. The family owned land at Wallsend and at Burradon in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century members of this family owned land at Nafferton and the name was notable in Elsdon in Redesdale during that century.

The variation Hindmarch is also most prominent in the North East and is a divergent form of the same name. Grouping the two names together there were 1,809 individuals in the 1881 Great Britain census. In County Durham there were 748 individuals; in Northumberland 739; in Yorkshire 49; in Lancashire 42 and there were 56 in Scotland. Small numbers could be found in other parts of England.

Hodgson surname

Northern English surname

Hodgson is found across most of the north. Notable Hodgsons include the Reverend John Hodgson, a nineteenth century historian of Northumberland. It is sometimes listed as a Border Reiver family surname in the area to the west of Carlisle. Henry Guppy said the surname was most numerous in Northumberland as far back as the fifteenth century. Early records of the name include a Hoggessone in Lancashire in 1325 and in Yorkshire in 1381. Hogeson was a common name before the sixteenth century.

A Richard Hodgson was mayor of Newcastle in 1555, 1556 and 1580 and a James Hodgson mayor of Newcastle in 1841 and 1851. A George Hodgson was mayor of Durham in 1671 and a William Hodgson mayor of Durham in 1694.

If Guppy was correct in his assertion of the historic Hodgson link to Northumberland, it was certainly not reflected in the 1881 census. The 1881 census shows that Hodgson was far more significant in every single one of the other northern English counties when compared to Northumberland, even when the comparative population of each county is taken into account.

There were 20,803 people called Hodgson in the 1881 census with only 160 residing in Scotland. Their distribution was primarily in the northern counties of England as follows: Yorkshire 7,786; Lancashire 3,164; Durham 2,887; Cumberland 2,355; Westmorland 649 and in Northumberland only 486. Of the remaining 3,316 across the country more than half lived in London and the southern counties including 771 in London itself.

Hodgson was the 5th most numerous surname in the county of Westmorland in 1881. It was 8th in Cumberland; 32nd in Durham and 37th in Yorkshire. Hodgson did not feature in the top fifty names for Lancashire or Northumberland.

A variation of the name is Hodgeson (with an ‘e’) and only occurs in the 1881 census 172 times with 100 of these individuals residing in the northern English counties.

Hogg surname

Primarily a Scottish surname

Listed by Henry Guppy as a Northumberland surname. It is in fact a
Scottish Borders and Lothian name but with a proportionally strong Northumberland presence. In the seventeenth century Hoggs owned land at Greenhead and at Acomb in the Tyne valley but the family have their roots in Scotland. A William Hog is mentioned in Huntingdonshire in the twelfth century. A hog is of course a pig and this surname likely derived from a nickname.

In the 1881 census there were 10,872 Hoggs with 4,466 in Scotland. In the northern counties of England their numbers were as follows: Northumbeland 908; Durham 826; Yorkshire 810; Lancashire 720; Cumberland 260 and Westmorland 41. The rest were distributed across the country and especially in the south east.

Holliday surname

Northern surname, especially Yorkshire

Listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in the North or East Riding of Yorkshire, it was noticeably prominent in Cumberland too. The surname Holliday occurs 4,769 times as either Holliday (3,928) or Holiday (841) in the 1881 census but these two forms proportionally share a very similar geographical distribution in that census so we will group them together.

So, for Holliday (or Holiday) there were 2,130 individuals across the northern counties of England in 1882 with 1,073 in Yorkshire; 695 in Cumberland; 437 in Lancashire; 226 in Durham; 69 in Cheshire, 41 in Westmorland and 39 in Northumberland. In Scotland there were only 63 people of this name and only 26 in Wales. The others were spread across England, mostly in the south east including 445 in London.

The variations Halliday (or Haliday) with an ‘a’ also shared similar distributions which we will again group together. There were 6,490 individuals called Halliday or Haliday in the 1881 census with Halliday being the most numerous of the two spellings with 6,277 compared to 279 for Haliday. These two surnames show a very strong northern distribution with a very significant presence in Scotland too where 1,977 resided. In the six northern counties of England they accounted for 2,897 with 1,327 in Yorkshire; 847 in Lancashire; 459 in Durham; 232 in Northumberland and 3 in Westmorland. There were 78 in Cheshire and most of the others were distributed thinly across the rest of England including 341 in London.

Other variations such as Haladay occur in much smaller numbers. All of these surnames derive from a ‘holy day’ referring to someone who was born during a religious festival.

Lindisfarne Priory with Lindisfarne castle in the distance © David Simpson

Holy Island surnames

Surnames of Lindisfarne

There were 127 family households on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) in the 1881 census and many of the residents were fishermen.

Cromarty surname Orkney and Lindisfarne

Prominent family names on Holy Island most notably included Cromarty with 9 households on the island headed by someone of this name. Interestingly, although this name is derived from Scotland’s Cromarty Firth, it is a surname primarily associated with Orkney.

In the 1881 census there were 360 Cromarty individuals in Great Britain of which 160 resided on Orkney. Another 56 resided in other parts of Scotland of which 21 gave their birthplace as Orkney.

In England there were 70 Cromarty individuals residing in the county of Northumberland, mostly on Holy Island where the surname was firmly established. Another 19 resided in Durham (including some with the spelling Cromerty); 7 lived in Lancashire; 28 in London and 8 in Kent with others residing in Gloucester and Hampshire.

Markwell, Brigham, Shell, Lilburn Lindisfarne surnames

Other families found on Lindisfarne in 1881 included (with the number of households in brackets) Walker (7) Wilson (6) Stevenson (6) Markwell (5) Brigham (5) Shell (4) Kyle (4) Morris (3) Grey (3) Rankin (3) Lilburn (3) and the unusual surname of Yetts (with 3 households).

Markwell was otherwise mostly a Suffolk name – with that county accounting for 139 of the 550 Markwell individuals in Great Britain in 1881 but due to the Lindisfarne households Northumberland accounted for 44. Other than that there was a curious distribution for this surname which might be best described as ‘East Anglian and Coastal’ with 36 in Norfolk; 41 in Cambridgeshire; 41 in Hertfordshire; 29 in Essex; 78 in London; 21 in Surrey; 27 in Durham; 27 in Yorkshire; 13 in Lancashire; 13 in Kent and the rest spread across the midlands and south.

Yetts was a very rare surname indeed with only 58 people of this name in Great Britain in the 1881 census. Of these, 15 lived in Scotland, mostly in Lanarkshire. Northumberland including Lindisfarne was home to 12; Durham 6; Surrey 12; Kent 4; Berkshire 5; London 2; with 1 each in Wiltshire and Lancashire.

Brigham was mostly a Yorkshire surname in the 1881 census but it has long held a significance in the North East and a Robert Brigham was a mayor of Newcastle in 1499 and a Christopher Brigham mayor of that town in 1504, 1505 and 1511.

Holy Island village
Holy Island village © David Simpson

People who gave their birthplace as Holy Island (Northumberland) turn up across the region in the 1881 census rom Darlington to Berwick. They included six family households in Hartlepool (including a mariner called Cromarty and a Shipwright called Markwell).

There were 12 households in Sunderland where the head of the family was born on Lindisfarne as well as a ship berthed in Sunderland harbour that included a Lindisfarne-born carpenter called David Cromity. A Holy Island-born shipwright called Brigham was residing at Westoe near South Shields.

There were six heads of household in Gateshead who were born on Holy Island. In Newcastle there were 25 households where the head of the household gave their birthplace as Holy Island including a waterman in the Westgate area called Rankin and two cartmen of the same name in Elswick. There was also a Holy Island-born Morris in Elswick and likewise a Holy Island-born Shell at Benwell both being heads of household. There were of course several households in Berwick and Tweedmouth (18) with Holy Island born heads of the home.

Home and Hume surnames

Border Reiver family primarily a Scottish surname

For many centuries the surname Hume, and the alternative pronunciation ‘Home’ which is also a surname in its own right have been associated with the lowland area of the Scottish borders near Berwick called the Merse. The Merse, on the Scottish side of the border has been the scene of many a skirmish between the English and Scots over the years and many of the places in the area like Polwarth, Blackadder and Edrom were strongholds of the Humes.

The Humes often sided with the English Kings in order to protect the district, but could support either side, perhaps because their family could trace its origin to both William the Conqueror and to Duncan, the King of Scotland who was slain by Macbeth. The Hume family takes its name from a place called Home in Berwickshire, which derives from the Viking word ‘holm’ meaning an island of land or a holm oak tree.

The River Tweed west of Berwick viewed from Halidon Hill
The River Tweed west of Berwick viewed from Halidon Hill © David Simpson

The surname Hume probably arises from the Scottish pronunciation of the word, although a separate branch of Humes are thought to originate from the south of England. Holmes is another similar surname but is not thought to be connected with the Humes or Homes. One branch of the Home family became the Lords of Home and included the fourteenth Lord Home of the Hirsel near Coldstream on the River Tweed.

He became a Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain as Sir Alec Douglas Home in 1963. He resigned the title of Lord to pursue his political career, but on retirement regained the title when he took up his post in the House of Lords.

Today the Hirsel is regarded as the seat of the Home family, while the place called Home which was once the site of the family seat is now only noted for a sham castle built on the site of the stronghold of the Home family.

In the 1881 census there were 6,101 people called Home or Hume in Great Britain with 2,157 residing in Scotland, especially in the lowlands/borders and predominantly ‘Hume’. In the northern counties of England there were 525 in Durham; 425 in Northumberland; 263 in Lancashire and 55 in Cumberland. The others were spread across the country but particularly in London and the south east.

A Walter De Hulme is mentioned in Suffolk in 1221 and a Ralph De la Hulme in Norfolk in 1275 but these may not be the root of this predominantly Scottish surname. A notable Hume of a more recent age, was the Newcastle-born, Cardinal Basil Hume (1923-1999), the Roman Catholic Bishop of Westminster.

Hopper surname

Durham surname

This surname is thought to refer to a dancer. In Old English a ‘Hoppen’ was a fair of dance and merriment. In the 1881 census there were 4,284 people of this name of which a remarkable 1,012 resided in County Durham. Yorkshire was home to 705; Northumberland 273 and Lancashire 122. In the smaller northern counties of Cumberland and Westmorland there were respectively only 10 and 2 individuals called Hopper and there were 13 in Cheshire. Scotland was home to 122 individuals but its distribution elsewhere seems disconnected as other primary counties for the name were Kent with 683; London 264; Surrey 174; Devon 168; Lincolnshire 116 and Sussex 92.

Hopps surname

Durham and Yorkshire name

Listed as a Guppy surname in Durham. Found in North East England, Yorkshire and parts of Northern Ireland. There were only 409 people called Hopps in the 1881 census almost all of whom resided in four of the six northern counties of England: Yorkshire 189; Durham 145; Lancashire 14 and Northumberland 9. Notable numbers of the remainder lived in the neighbouring counties of Lincolnshire and Cheshire as well as in London.

Horsley surname

Yorkshire and the North

Found especially in Yorkshire but has a strong early association with Northumberland. Horsley was listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in the North or East Riding of Yorkshire. There were 3,057 in the Great Britain census of which 800 resided in Yorkshire. Durham was home to 234 Horsleys; Lancashire 135; Northumberland 108; Cumberland 62 and Westmorland 6.

Others were spread across England relatively evenly with only 39 Horsleys residing in Scotland. There are places called Horsley and Longhorsley in Northumberland which are likely places of origin, although the Horsley place-name also occurs in Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, and Surrey.

Horsley Tower, Longhorsley
Horsley Tower, Longhorsley © David Simpson

In 1270 the Horsley family held the manor of Outchester near Bamburgh and in 1415 a Robert Horsley was the owner of Thernham Tower (Farnham Tower) near Hepple in Coquetdale. A Thomas Horsley, who founded Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School was the mayor of Newcastle in 1514, 1519, 1524 and 1533.

A Cuthbert Horsley was the MP for Northumberland in 1553; from 1554 (November) and from 1558 to 1559. A Robert Horsley was an MP for Northumberland from April 1554 and Cuthbert Horsley was an MP for Newcastle upon Tyne from April 1554. In 1569, George Horsley of Acklington Park in Northumberland was one of the supporters of the rebellion known as the Rising of the North.

Hornsby surname

North East and North Yorkshire

In the 1881 census there were 1,952 people with this name and it was most prominent in the counties of Durham (298); Yorkshire (207) and Northumberland (206). There were 100 of this name in Cumberland and 48 in Lancashire. Others were distributed across the country and especially the south east.

A Thomas Hornsby was mayor of Durham in 1745, 1750, 1762 and 1768. A Hugh Hornby (without the ‘s’ was mayor of Newcastle in 1778 ad 1789.

Howey surname

Northumberland and Durham surname from a Scottish name

Howay Howey! It immediately sounds like it should be a North East surname. Focused on the Carlisle and Tyne Valley areas it was listed as one of Henry Guppy’s surnames in Northumberland. The surname occurs 489 times in the Great Britain census in 1881 with only 3 individuals in Scotland but there were 235 Howeys in Northumberland and 154 in Durham. There were very few in the other northern counties with 5 in Yorkshire and 3 in Lancashire and most of the others residing in the south including 44 in London.

The surname Howie with the different spelling is, however, very much a Scottish name and a much more numerous one too. It occurs 2,964 times in the 1881 census of which 2,653 are in Scotland. A further 211 could be found in the remaining northern counties of England including 92 in Durham and 44 in Northumberland in addition to the Howeys that resided in those counties. There were 45 in Lancashire; only 12 in Yorkshire and 18 in Cumberland with others spread across the south.

Hudspeth and Hudspith surnames

Durham and Northumberland surnames

The variant forms of this surname originate from the remote hamlet (a farm) called Hudspeth near Elsdon in Redesdale, Northumberland. In the 1881 census there were 288 people called Hudspeth and 297 called Hudspith. The numbers in each county were as follows with the figure for Hudspeth given first and the additional figure for Hudspith in brackets: Durham 119 (35); Northumberland 108 (154); Yorkshire 18 (5); Cumberland 11 (36); Lancashire 7 (12); London 6 (2);  Essex 12 (0); Edinburgh 1 (1); Gloucestershire 1 (0); Norfolk 1 (0); Nottinghamshire 2 (0); Somerset 1 (2); Warwickshire 1 (0).

In the following counties only Hudspith could be found in 1881: Berwickshire (9) Westmorland (4); Surrey  (19); Hampshire  (5); Suffolk (8); Worcestershire  (4) and Wiltshire (1). Although Hudspith seems to have had a broader geographical distribution than Hudspeth it was only of significance in the county of Northumberland where there were 154 Hudspiths (as well as 108 Hudspeths) and to a lesser extent in Surrey where there were 19 Hudspiths but no Hudspeths.

Hugill surname

Yorkshire and northern surname

Primarily a Yorkshire surname but with a presence in Durham too. It was listed as one of Henry Guppy’s surnames in the North or East Riding of Yorkshire. Of the 751 Hugills in the 1881 census 678 lived in the six northern counties as follows: Yorkshire 538; Durham 99; Lancashire 26; Cumberland 14 and Westmorland 1.

A variation Hewgill (40 individuals) was also mostly northern as was Hughill (25 in Great Britain of which 5 were in Durham and 20 in Yorkshire). A third variation, Hugall occurred 86 times in Great Britain with 50 in Durham, 5 in Lancashire and 3 in Yorkshire with the remainder mostly in Surrey and London.

The surname occurs in the form de Hogyll in the Sedbergh area of Yorkshire in the fourteenth century and may derive from the nearby Howgill or from a place called Hugill in Cumbria (Westmorland).

Humble surname

North East surname

In the 1881 census the Humble surname was most numerous in County Durham where there were 535 individuals of this name. In Northumberland there were 306; in Yorkshire 250; Lancashire 17 and in Cumberland 5. In the whole of Scotland there were only 38. The remaining 276 were spread across the midlands and south east including 53 in Kent and 83 in London. The name derives from the Old French ‘humble or obedient’ and occurs in the Assize Rolls for Durham in 1242 (an Adam Homel).

Hunter surname

Primarily a Scottish surname

Quite a significant name in Scotland, especially central Scotland but also in Northern Ireland. In England it has a strong presence in North East England. Sometimes included as a Border Reiver family surname but its distribution is much more widespread than the Scottish Borders.

There were 30,964 individuals called Hunter in the 1881 census. Some 14,653 of these lived in Scotland. The figures for the northern counties of England were: Durham 3,223; Lancashire 2,726; Yorkshire 2,680; Northumberland 1,662; Cumberland 419 and Westmorland 161. The remaining numbers were widely dispersed across England and Wales with nearly 3,000 in London and the counties of the south and south east.

Hunter was the 25th most numerous surname in County Durham in the 1881 census and 30th in Northumberland but did not feature in the top fifty names of the other northern counties.

Hutchinson surname

Surname of Durham and the North

This Surname has a strong association with County Durham and Hutchinsons were property owners around the City of Durham from the seventeenth century. They were notable in the Bishop Middleham area but later prominent in Stockton and Whitton in the eighteenth century. William Hutchinson, the nineteenth century historian of County Durham resided at Barnard Castle.

Galgate, Barnard Castle
Galgate in Barnard Castle was the home to the historian, William Hutchinson © David Simpson

Several Hutchinsons were mayors of Durham: Hugh Hutchinson in 1607; Cuthbert Hutchinson was the name of the mayor in 1646, 1679, 1698 and in 1702. There were mayors of the name John Hutchinson in 1681, 1682, 1683, 1714, 1797, 1808, 1817 and 1825. A Ralph Hutchinson was mayor in 1823 and an Alan William Hutchinson in 1839.

A William Hutchinson was mayor of Newcastle in 1688 and a Robert Hutchinson mayor of Hartlepool in 1719.

Hutchinson is very much a northern name especially in the County of Durham but also significant in Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. The variant Hutchings is, however a name of south east England.

In the 1881 census there were 24,259 people with the name Hutchinson in the Great Britain census. The whole of Scotland accounted for 6,361 of these. The North of England was the principal focus for the surname as follows: Yorkshire 4,717; Durham 3,046; Lancashire 2,319; Northumberland 1,026; Cumberland 387 and Westmorland 320. The rest of the Hutchinsons were widely dispersed across the country, particularly in London and the south east.

Hutchinson was the 20th most numerous name in the county of Westmorland in 1881 and the 31st most numerous in County Durham but did not feature in the top fifty names for any of the other northern counties.

North East Surnames beginning with:

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Historic counties of Great Britain and Ireland
Historic counties of Great Britain and Ireland showing the six northern counties of England © David Simpson and England’s North East 2021
Note on the populations of English counties in 1881

When comparing figures for individual numbers of a surname in 1881 it is important to be aware of the actual population of each of the Northern English counties. As you can see from the figures below, 500 individuals with a particular surname in Westmorland would be proportionally much more significant than 500 people of the same surname residing in Lancashire. You might well describe such a surname as a ‘Westmorland name’ but the numbers would not be significant enough to describe it as a ‘Lancashire surname’, at least not as defined by the 1881 distribution. The 1881 northern county populations were as follows:

  • Northumberland: Population 434,658. The county included Newcastle upon Tyne, Wallsend, North Shields, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay and a mining district in the south east of the county including the port of Blyth. As well as indigenous Northumbrian surnames, ‘Border names’ are often abundant in this county, occasionally taking on a form that is distinct from similar Scottish surnames.
  • Durham: Population 869,130. The county included Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Jarrow, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool. Numerous small mining towns and villages lie across the county between these major centres of population and like the industrial centres were often the home to surnames that originated in Northumberland and North Yorkshire as well as home-grown in County Durham.
  • Yorkshire: Population 2,895,049. This county included the iron town of Middlesbrough on the south bank of the River Tees in the north east corner of the county as well as ‘West Riding’ towns like Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax, York, Huddersfield to the south. Most of the population of Yorkshire was and still is focused upon the urban and industrialised south west of the county where there is a close relationship in terms of surnames with neighbouring Lancashire across the Pennines. The far south of the county around Sheffield is also very populous. The rural East Riding along with the city of Hull may have a close relationship with neighbouring Lincolnshire. From a North East point of view many of the surnames we describe as ‘Durham and Yorkshire’ are almost always specifically focused upon North Yorkshire and south Durham, though often stretching across the whole of Durham in distribution.
  • Cumberland: Population 251,520. The main centres in this county included Carlisle and the industrial coastal towns of Whitehaven and Workington. As in Northumberland, ‘Border surnames’ have a strong influence here, often originating from or stretching into Scottish counties of the western borders, notably Dumfriesshire.
  • Westmorland: Population 64,204. This was a relatively small and rural county in terms of population. Characterised by small market towns and farming villages, it has its own distinct surname distribution. Along with Cumberland it is now part of Cumbria.
  • Lancashire: Population 3,466,597. This highly populated county included Liverpool and Manchester as well as major towns such as Bolton; Preston; Burnley; Oldham, Rochdale and a number of mill towns. The historic county also stretched into the south Lakeland area in what is now (along with Cumberland and Westmorland) part of Cumbria. The industries of Lancashire were a great draw for immigration from Scotland; Ireland and Wales, particularly in the nineteenth century.
  • Cheshire: We occasionally include details of surname distribution in Cheshire (its population in 1881 was 644,895) where relevant, though surnames in Cheshire and indeed Lancashire and to some extent West Yorkshire often take on a distinctly different character and pattern of distribution to surnames in the other northern counties. Welsh surnames are also quite significant in Cheshire given its location on the Welsh Border. In fact some suburbs of the city of Chester are located within Wales.
  • Counties of the Midlands and South: In addition to the six northernmost counties plus Cheshire, there were a further 32 other counties in England as follows: Bedfordshire; Berkshire; Buckinghamshire; Cambridgeshire; Cornwall; Derbyshire; Devon; Dorset; Essex; Gloucestershire; Hampshire; Hertfordshire; Hertfordshire; Huntingdonshire; Kent; Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; London (Middlesex); Norfolk; Northamptonshire; Nottinghamshire; Oxfordshire; Rutland; Shropshire; Somerset; Staffordshire; Suffolk; Surrey; Sussex; Warwickshire; Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
  • The South East: Of these other English counties, London and some of its neighbouring counties were particularly populous as of course they still are. There were just short of 3 million people in Middlesex (London) and additionally in Surrey there were 1.4 million people. In Essex there were more than half a million people and the population in Kent (996,770) was just short of a million. Such a populous region as the South East often inevitably includes Northern surnames that have gravitated southward but rarely do these surnames have any proportional significance within the population of the South East.
  • Scotland: The total population of Scotland in 1881 was 3.4 million, focused primarily on the central lowland belt stretching from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
  • Wales: The total population of Wales in 1881 was just over 1.5 million and focused upon Cardiff, Swansea and the industrial mining valleys of the south.

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Introduction to North East surnames

Border Reivers

Guppy’s surnames

North East Notable People


Border Reiver Surnames of the Anglo-Scottish Border. Poster Print.


North East England History and Culture