Explore the Family Name Howard

The meaning of Howard

1. English: of Norman origin, from the Middle English personal names Huward (also Howard) and Heward, from Old French Huard (itself from ancient Germanic Hugihard, hugi- ‘mind, understanding, spirit’ + hard- ‘hardy, bold’). As Hugh appears in Middle English as both How and Hew, this is the definite origin of Heward and a source of Howard. This surname is also very common among African Americans. See Hugh. 2. English: from the Middle English personal name Haward or Howard, usually an Anglicized form of Old Danish Hāwarth (Old Norse Hávarthr, from há ‘high’ + varthr ‘guard, guardian, warden’). Alternation between Haward and Howard may have led to later confusion with Hayward. 3. English: occasionally a variant of Ewart 2. 4. Irish: variant of Fogarty from Ó hÓghairt, a shortened form of Ó hÓgartaigh, a name derived from a lenited form of Ó Fógartaigh. 5. Irish: variant of Ivers from Ó hÍomhair, which was also Anglicized as O’Hure and Hever. Compare McIver. History: The house of Howard, the leading family of the English Roman Catholic nobility, was founded by Sir William Howard or Haward of Norfolk (died 1308). The family acquired the dukedom of Norfolk by marriage. The first duke of Norfolk of the Howard line was created earl marshal of England by Richard III in 1483, and this office has been held by his succeeding male heirs to the present day. They also hold the earldoms of Suffolk, Berkshire, Carlisle, and Effingham. Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard (c.1520–42), was a niece of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. American Howards include the father and son John Eager Howard and Benjamin Chew Howard of Baltimore, MD, both MD politicians.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Howard in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname Howard experienced a modest shift between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, it ranked as the 70th most popular surname in the United States, but by 2010, it had dipped slightly to 75th place, marking a change of -7.14%. Despite this drop in ranking, the overall count of individuals with the Howard surname increased from 254,779 in 2000 to 264,826 in 2010, indicating a growth of 3.94%. Consequently, the proportion of people named Howard per 100,000 decreased by 4.94%, moving from 94.45 in 2000 to 89.78 in 2010.

Proportion per 100k94.4589.78-4.94%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Howard

The ethnic identity associated with the surname Howard also saw some changes between 2000 and 2010, according to the Decennial U.S. Census data. The percentage of individuals identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and bearing the surname Howard grew by 31.58%, while those identifying with two or more races increased by 41.38%. The number of Hispanics with the Howard surname also notably rose by 52.90%. On the other hand, there was a slight decrease in the percentage of Whites carrying the Howard name, moving from 66.83% in 2000 to 64.31% in 2010. The Black community saw a slight rise from 28.69% to 29.49%, and the American Indian and Alaskan Native cohort increased marginally as well, by 6.10%.

Two or More Races1.74%2.46%41.38%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.82%0.87%6.1%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.38%0.5%31.58%

Howard ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Howard is British & Irish, which comprises 52.4% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (20.9%) and Nigerian (3.9%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Eastern European, Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Italian.

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British & Irish52.4%
French & German20.9%

Possible origins of the surname Howard

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Howard have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom80.40%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom80.20%
West Midlands, United Kingdom80.10%
Merseyside, United Kingdom79.90%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom79.70%

What Howard haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Howard is R-P311, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-P311 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-Z19 and R-CTS241, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Brown, Wright, Smith, Mitchell, Young, Clark, Miller, Wilson, Taylor, Williams.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Howard surname are: T2b, H, H1. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

howardPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Howard have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Howard" Surname 43.0%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Howard" Surname 25.4%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Howard" Surname 24.7%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Howard" Surname 19.0%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Howard?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Howard are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%