Howell (name)

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Family name
Meaning "The Sun"; "high, exalted"
Region of origin Wales
Language(s) of origin Welsh
Related names Hoel, Howel, Hugh, Hywel
Footnotes: Frequency Comparisons: [1]

Howell is a surname (family name or last name) originating from Wales. It is not a particularly common name among those of Welsh ancestry, as it is an Anglicized form of the Welsh name Hywel. It originates in a dynasty of kings in Wales and Brittany in the 9th and 10th century, and three Welsh royal houses of that time onwards. The Tudor Royal house of England was also descended from them. See: Welsh surnames.

The name Howell may refer to many people:










  • Ian Howell (born 1958), South African cricketer and umpire











  • Valma Howell (1896–1979), Australian artist
  • Varina Howell (1826–1906), First Lady of the Confederate States of America; wife of CSA President Jefferson Davis
  • Verdun Howell (born 1936), Australian rules footballer
  • David Koresh (born Vernon Howell) (1959–1993), American leader of Branch Davidians religious sect




King of Wales[edit]

Others named Howell[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

  • Brutus "Brutal" Howell, prison guard played by David Morse in The Green Mile
  • Claire Howell, prison guard played by Kristin Rohde on TV's Oz
  • Thurston Howell, III, millionaire played by Jim Backus on TV's Gilligan's Island
  • Lovey Howell, wife of Thurston, played by Natalie Schafer on Gilligan's Island
  • Elliot Howell III, fictional Hindenburg passenger credited to Colby Chester in the eponymous film
  • Howell Jenkins, an alter ego of Wizard Howl in the fantasy trilogy Howl's Moving Castle

Legendary King of Brittany[edit]

  • Hoel, whose name is sometimes spelled as Howel


  1. ^ "Howell Surname Meaning and Distribution".  Retrieved 21 January 2014

Family Legend[edit]

The family legend is more revealing than the mere list of similar names. Many people by the name of Walsh and Welsh, who come from Kilkenny in Ireland know that they are related to Howell through the Cambro-Norman campaign of Princess Nest, recorded historiographically by Geraldus Cambrensis for posterity.

The Hayles Castle of Kilkenny possessed very precise details of the family kinship until it was sacked by Cromwell, in a very similar Irish campaign to the one conducted by Princess Nest, 500 years earlier. Princess Nest was greatgrand daughter of Hywel Dda as was Geraldus his Greatgrand son.

The names Hayle, Hoyle are variations in the Irish county as also, Houlden, Houlder,and very occasionally Howelden.

The names Games and Mostyn are also branches of the family who merely changed their names without sensing any loss of pride at being descended from the great 10thC king, Games being descendants of Howell Gam (meaning lame leg), and Mostyn for other reasons besides.

The name Powell is invariably another huge part of the family Howell, being "Ap" Howell "sons of" Howell, and closely linked genealogically. Thus two large groups, the Powell family and the Welsh family are to be considered also.

The name Powys, although it derives from Ap Howie (son of Howie/Howell)is a more remote connection although some Powys family members do also make the Hywel dda link in their genealogies. The name has been used for a county name which somewhat confuses the issue.

A reading of the Welsh law of Patronymics 1538c is useful for an understanding of Welsh names, as is a reading of the Welsh language.

Not all Howell people are Welsh, who live in the UK, some being from Lincolnshire, since the 12thC century when William Marshall, first earl of England raised a small army of Howell named people to defeat an insurrection in that county. There is also a large contingent In Bristol.

People called Morgan are descended from Rhodri Mawr, the grandfather of Hywel dda, and also a Welsh king, the father of them all. Knowledgeable Welsh men are well aware of these historical facts.

See also[edit]