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Family Ancestors


Family History

Origins of the Surname

Variations of the Surname

Armorial Bearings

& Motto(es)

Ancestral Lineage

Ancestral Locations

Source Documents

Website Resources

Family Images Gallery



Family history



Family History


          The only known ancestor of this family line is our 11th great-grandmother Ellena Howson.  Ellena was born in Lancashire, England circa 1580.  In 1599 she married William Bracken also of Lancashire.  The only known child born to this union is our 10th great-grandfather Robert Bracken born in 1602.  It was Ellena’s great-grandson William Bracken (1671-1749) who emigrated to America in 1699.  Ellena lived her short life in the county of Lancashire where she died around the age of 24 years.   


Origins of the surname


Origins of the Surname

An Introduction to the Surname

Source/Meaning of the Surname

History of

the Surname

Immigrants to North America

More About Surnames

An Introduction to the Surname

                 The practice of inherited family surnames began in England and France during the late part of the 11th century.     With the passing of generations and the movement of families from place to place many of the original identifying names were altered into some of the versions that we are familiar with today.  Over the centuries, most of our European ancestors accepted their surname as an unchangeable part of their lives.  Thus people rarely changed their surname.  Variations of most surnames were usually the result of an involuntary act such as when a government official wrote a name phonetically or made an error in transcription.  Research into the record of this Howson family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname are most likely linked to that area of Europe where English, linguistic traditions are commonly found. 

Source(s) & Meaning(s) of the Surname

     Most of the modern family names throughout Europe have originated from with of the following circumstances: patronym or matronym, names based on the name of one's father, mother or ancestor, (Johnson, Wilson, Tiffany, Megson). Each is a means of conveying lineage; occupation (i.e., Carpenter, Cooper, Brewer, Mason); habitational (Middleton, Sidney, or Ireland) or topographical (i.e. Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale); nicknames (i.e., Moody Freeholder, Wise, Armstrong); status (i.e. Freeman, Bond, Knight); and acquired ornamental names that were simply made up.

     Howson is an English surname found mainly around Yorkshire.  This name HOWSON was a baptismal name 'the son of Hugh'.  Thus it is a patronymic form of the surname Hugh.  The English surname Hugh is derived to sources: (1) the Old English word 'hoh ' and also meant the dweller by the projecting piece of land. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived; and (2)  from the Old French personal name Hu(gh)e, introduced to Britain by the Normans.  This is in origin a short form of any of the various Germanic compound names with the first element hug ‘heart’, ‘mind’, ‘spirit’ such as Howard , Hubble, and Hubert.  It was a popular personal name among the Normans in England, partly due to the fame of St. Hugh of Lincoln (1140–1200), who was born in Burgundy and who established the first Carthusian monastery in England.  In Ireland and Scotland this name has been widely used as an equivalent of Celtic Aodh ‘fire’, the source of many Irish surnames such as McCoy.

History of the Surname

Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th century. They were not in use in England or Scotland, before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and were first found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans who had adopted the custom just prior to this time.    Soon thereafter it became a mark of a generally higher socio-economic status and thus seen as disgraceful for a well-bred man to have only one name.  It was not until the middle of the 14th century that surnames became general practice among all people in the British Isles.

Some believe that the Howson surname is first found in the British Isles before the Norman Conquest.  The name itself first appears in records in the mid 11th Century, during the Norman Invasion of England.  The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wlfuric Hugo Sune, which was dated 1066, in the "Inquisitio Eliensis", during the reign of King William 1st.   Early records of the name mention Roger del Howes, 1273 County Cambridge. Richard del Howes was documented in the year 1273 in the County of Sussex.  One Richard Hughson appeared in 1310 in the Calendar of Letter Books of the city of London, while the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire record one William Huggesone in 1327.  Henry Howsone was mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland in 1332 while a Michael Howesone was listed in the Court Rolls of the borough of Colchester in 1378. William de Howe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379.  The surname is also found in Scotland where it first appeared in 1467 when Moris Howsone was listed in the Registrum de Dumfermelyn" on "Inquisition anent a fishing on the Tweed". John Howson (1557 - 1632), was Chaplain to Elizabeth 1st and James 1st and Bishop of Oxford from 1619-1628 and of Durham from 1628- 1632.  A notable member of the name was Elias Howe (1819-67) the American inventor, born in Spencer, Massachusetts. He worked as a mechanic in Lowell and Boston, where he constructed and patented in 1846, the first sewing machine.

Early Immigrants to North America

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.  Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of Howson, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: William Howieson who landed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1878; Thomas Howson arrived at the Virginia colony in 1748;  Roger Howson came to Virgina as and indentured servant in 1662.; William Hoiwson arrived in New York City in 1826; and  Mary Howson arrived in Maryland 1719 as a convict from Middlesex County, England

Use the following links to find more early immigrants with this surname:

$ Search Immigration Records; or Free Ship’s Passenger lists at

More About Surname Meanings & Origins

English Surnames

Although the Domesday Book compiled by William the Conqueror required surnames, the use of them in the British Isles did not become fixed until the time period between 1250 and 1450.  The broad range of ethnic and linguistic roots for British surnames reflects the history of Britain as an oft-invaded land. These roots include, but are not limited to, Old English, Middle English, Old French, Old Norse, Irish, Gaelic, Celtic, Pictish, Welsh, Gaulish, Germanic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  Throughout the British Isles, there are basically five types of native surnames. Some surnames were derived from a man's occupation (Carpenter, Taylor, Brewer, Mason), a practice that was commonplace by the end of the 14th century.  Place names reflected a location of residence and were also commonly used (Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale) as a basis for the surname, for reasons that can be easily understood.  Nicknames that stuck also became surnames.  About one-third of all surnames in the United Kingdom are patronymic in origin, and identified the first bearer of the name by his father (or grandfather in the case of some Irish names). When the coast of England was invaded by William The Conqueror in the year 1066, the Normans brought with them a store of French personal names, which soon, more or less, entirely replaced the traditional more varied Old English personal names, at least among the upper and middle classes. A century of so later, given names of the principal saints of the Christian church began to be used. It is from these two types of given name that the majority of the English patronymic surnames are derived and used to this day.  Acquired ornamental names were simply made up, and had no specific reflection on the first who bore the name. They simply sounded nice, or were made up as a means of identification, generally much later than most surnames were adopted.


Variations of the surname


Variations of
the Surname


Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families.  Spelling variations of this family name include: Howison, Howieson, Howeson, Howyson, Howson, Huson, Hewson, Hooson, Hoosun, Hughson, Howse, Hows and many others.   


The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may also have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents.   The Soundex Indexing System was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname.  Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research.  The Soundex Code for Howson is H250.  Other surnames sharing this Soundex Code: Hachen | Hackney | Hagan | Hagen | Haskin | Hasson | Haugen | Haughn | Hawken | Hazen | Hession | Hewson | Hickam | Hickson | Hixon | Hixson | Hogan | Hosken | Houchin | Huson | Hussin |.


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Coat of arms


Armorial Bearings & Motto(es)

In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armored warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.  In the British Isles the College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.

Fig. 1



Fig. 2




There are at least 8 known associated armorial bearings for Howison / Howson and close variant spellings recorded in Sir Bernard Burke’s General Armory.

     The following additional information has been found regarding the coats-of-arms shown at the left:

Figure 1: arms originally granted to Howison of Braehead, Midlothian, Scotland and inherited by Howison-Craufurd of Craufurdland, Ayrshire, as well as Braehead, co. Midlothian. This coat-of-arms shows a silver shield with a man's red heart and three gold fleur-de-lis on a blue chief.  The crest is a purple dexter (right) hand couped (cut off at the bottom).

Figure 2: These armorial bearings were granted in 1783 to Howison of Holmfoot, in Lanark, Scotland. The shield is the same as in figure one, the crest of an eagle rising is different.

     Other coats-of-arms not shown were granted to the following: Housson, or Howson of London in 1605; and Howson of Lincolnshire, England in 1649.


There are several family mottos for Howison / Howson  such as: “Coelum non animum,” which is translated as, “You may change your climate, but not your disposition;” and   “Robor meum Deus” translated as “Strength through God.” The motto attributed to the aforementioned  Howison of Midlothian, Scotland  is “Sursum corda” meaning, “Hearts upwards”.  The motto attributed to the aforementioned  Howison of Lanark, Scotland  is “Nulla temerata nube” which is translated as No profane thing under a cloud”


A Coat of Arms is defined as a group of emblems and figures (heraldic bearings) usually arranged on and around a shield and serving as the special insignia of some person, family, or institution.  Except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short, is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  The rules and traditions regarding Coats of Arms vary from country to country. Therefore a Coat of Arms for an English family would differ from that of a German family even when the surname is the same.  The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.   Some of the more prominent elements incorporated into a  coat of arms are :

Crest - The word crest is often mistakenly applied to a coat of arms.  The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.  Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.

Wreath or TorseThe torse is a twist of cloth or wreath underneath and part of a crest. Always shown as six twists, the first tincture being the tincture of the field, the second the tincture of the metal, and so on.

Mantling – The mantling is a drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield.

Helm or Helmet - The helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets.

Shield or Arms - The basis of all coats of arms.  At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.  The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.

Motto - The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment. It may appear at the top or bottom of a family coat of arms.

Direct ancestors


Ancestral Lineage

Descendant Register

Generation 1

Ellena Howson-1 was born on Abt. 1580 in Lancashire, England. She died on Abt. 1604 in  Lancashire, England. She married William Bracken on 05 Feb 1599 in Clapham, Yorkshire,  England, son of William Bracken. He was born on Abt. 1580 in Lancashire, England. He died on  1634 in Lancashire, England.   Child of Ellena Howson and William Bracken is Robert Bracken, B: 1602 in Lancashire, England, D: 1638 in Lancashire, England.


Additional information about our DIRECT ANCESTORS  as well as a complete listing of individuals with this surname may be reviewed by clicking on the following LINK.


MMPS Surname Locator

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Ancestral locations




Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill-in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.  The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the persons in the “Direct Ancestors” list (see above) were born, married, and / or died.








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Where in the World
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Resources which enhance our knowledge of the places inhabited by our ancestors are almost as important as their names. The LINK to the right will take you to Maps, Gazetteers,   and  other  helpful   resources 



that will assist in discovering Ancestral Locations.  These web sites comprise only a small portion of what is available for researchers interested in learning more about where their ancestors lived.

Click on the LINK to the right to see more information about the World distribution of this surname.  You can

get greater detail for any of the following maps by clicking on the area, i.e state, county that you are interested in.

Source documents




The documents contained within the “Source Documents Archives” have been located during my research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.


     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary evidence.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?; (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE:  Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing  Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63


You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive.

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 us via the contact information found at the end of this page.

Use the following LINK to view the source documents pertaining

 to this family.



Web resources


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General Surname Resources


Our SURNAME LOCATOR AND RESOURCES web page contains the following: (1) links that will take you to an updated listing of all surnames as posted in our three databases at the Rootsweb WorldConnect Project; (2) the Surname List Finder a tool that finds sound-alike matches for a given surname from among RootsWeb's thousands of surname lists; (3) the Soundex Converter that can be used to find the soundex code for a surname, plus other surnames/spellings sharing the same soundex code;  (4) Surname Message Boards the world's largest online genealogy community with over 17 Million posts on more than 161,000 boards; (5) Surname Mailing Lists of all surnames having mailing lists at RootsWeb, as well as topics that include (6) Surname Heraldy, and  (7) Mapping a Surname. 


Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of SURNAME WEB. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 


SURNAME FINDER provides easy access to free and commercial resources for 1,731,359 surnames. On each surname specific "finder" page, you can search a variety of online databases all pre-programmed with your surname.


Use ALL SURNAMES GENEALOGY to get access to find your surname resources .  There are almost 1300 links in this directory.


Additional Sites That We Recommend

Linkpendium Surnames - Web sites, obituaries, biographies, and other material specific to a surname.

Cyndi's List - Surnames, Family Associations & Family Newsletters Index - Sites or resources dedicated to specific, individual family surnames. - Family History and Genealogy Records - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.

Top Genealogical Websites - These mighty roots resources compiled by “Family Tree Magazine”, will give you the power to bust through research brick walls and find answers about your ancestors—all from your home computer.

SurnameDB Free database of surname meanings - This site SurnameDB.Com contains a large FREE to access database (almost 50,000 surnames) on the history and meaning of family last names.


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