This famous English name is in Gaelic O'hIomhair, where it is found in County Clare, formerly as O'Hure. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early instances of the name include Henry Hawarde Esq., son of Sir Thomas Hawarde, Viscount Bindon, married Frances Mewys in London in the year 1503. Catherine Howard (1520-1542) was the fifth wife of Henry VIII, she was beheaded. Roger Harwarde of Oxford, registered at Oxford University in the year 1539. Sir Robert Howard (1626-98) was the English Restoration dramatist, son of the 1st Earl of Berkshire. He wrote ' The Committee ' in 1663, and the Indian Queen, the later assisted by his brother-in-law John Dryden. His brothers, Edward and James were also dramatists. William Howard was the sheriff of Norwich in the year 1657. Edward Howard gave a gift to the parish of St. Swithins' in County Chester of three pounds per annum for the poor to have bread in the year 1663. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in Dublin, confirmed in 1708 to Doctor Ralph Howard. Ancestor of the Earls of Wicklow.
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