The surname of HOWELL was derived from the Old Welsh HOWEL - one who came from Brittany to Wales. Local names usually denote where a man held land or where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Huwal West - King of the Welsh West of Wales in 926. Geffrey Hoel of Wales in 1130. John Howel of the County of Somerset in 1313. Hyllar Howell was documented in County Somerset during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards. An eminent member of the name was James Howell (1593-1666) the English writer. He studied at Oxford, and travelled abroad, entering parliament on his return in 1627. From 1632 until 1642, he was mainly employed as a royalist spy, and during the Civil War was imprisoned by parliament (1642-50). At the Restoration, the office of royal historian was created for him, and during his lifetime he wrote 41 works on history, politics and philosophy, as well as instructions on foreign travel. 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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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