This name HOWE was a baptismal name 'the son of Hugh'. The name was derived from 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. 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. William de Howe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. 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. He made an unsuccessful visit to England to introduce his invention and, in returning in 1847 to Boston, found his patent had been infringed. Harassed by poverty, he entered on seven year's war of litigation to protect his rights, and was ultimately successful in 1854, and amassed a fortune. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. The associated arms are recorded in Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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