ORIGIN OF EARLY HOUGH FAMILIES FROM ENGLAND TO PA

 

By

Granville W. Hough

 

     In 1961, I was able to make two short visits to the British Museum in London, which is the home of much of the archival material for the British Isles.  I was able to determine several things in the short time I had.  The name HOUGH is found in several parts of the British Isles, and it is pronounced differently in different areas.  It may be "how" or "hoe" or "hoff" in Ireland, Northern England and Scotland, and Eastern England.  It is specifically "huff" in Cheshire and in the shires close by.  The origin of that group seems to have been a group of Flemish religious refugees, who were settled about 1200 on the border with the Welsh to absorb the shock of any uprising among those rebellious Welsh tribes.  The list of descendants included the names Hough and Ainsworth, the only two I now recall.  I was able to determine that this branch of the family had done well enough to have its own coat of arms.  The name had changed over the years to the form Hough, pronounced "huff."  There was no indication that this family was related to, or even shared an origin with, the families which became Hough in other parts of the British Isles.  Of course, in the 300 to 400 years after they were first settled in the Cheshire area, the family members from Cheshire could have spread out.  I'm inclined to think they did not, and that the other families have different origins.  I'd look for the origin of the phonetic "huff" group in Flanders, not England.

 

     Now, after thirty years of research in the U. S., I have never met a HOUGH of English ancestry who traces back to the Cheshire area who was not a phonetic "huff."  Conversely, anyone who knows that his HOUGH name has been "huff" for several generations is probably a descendant of the Cheshire group.  Anyone of English ancestry whose HOUGH name is "how" is likely of Irish or Yorkshire origin.  Anyone of English ancestry who is HOUGH but pronounces it to rhyme with cough is likely of Eastern English origin, possibly from the Dane invasion before the time of Alfred the Great.  There are Scottish families, too, who more often than not spell their name as Haugh, and it rhymes with cough.

 

     There are Norwegian HOUGH families, and they go along with the "cough" rhyme.  The German and Austrian families seem to be somewhat like the big German HOFF family.  The "hoe" families mostly came early from the Netherlands to New York and New Jersey, as were Houghtaling, etc, before shortening to Hough, pronounced "hoe."  There are some large family of German origin which settled in MD and PA and spread out from there.  They spell the name Hough and pronounce it "hoak," though some have opted for "hoaf" or "hoe" in later generations.  These families seem to have been Hauck and Hofe in their earliest German records, giving rise to the variations of "hoak" and "hoaf."  There may have been an English group which used the "hoe" approach, as the name HOUGHTON is pronounced like Hoe-ton.  At some time this English name applied to those who lived in a place called Hough.

 

     So, I conclude that the only family that I can connect with in England is the Cheshire group which has been phonetically "huff" for several hundred years.  What it was before, and what is was in Flanders seems beyond recall.  I can establish no relationship of this group in Cheshire to families from Ireland, Scotland, Yorkshire, Eastern England, or to other European countries.  It certainly does not seem to have been in England until several generations after William the Conqueror came from Normandy.  If there is a name in the Doomsday Book, I do not know what it would be; and I specifically do not know how one would recognize it was an ancestral form of HOUGH. 

 

     When William Penn began his effort to settle Quaker families to PA, he was able to convince numerous families in the Cheshire area of the opportunities.  There were HOUGH families among these Quakers, and there were other HOUGH individuals who seemed sympathetic to the Quaker approaches, though they were not particularly active in the meetings.  Seven or eight of these individuals came to PA between 1681 and 1683.  They were John and Hannah, and their infant son John; Richard; John; Samuel; Thomas; Francis; and Michael.  O. L. HOUGH studied the available records for these persons and published the results in 1975 as Hough in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1683-1850.  Based on the same kind of reasoning I used above, he concluded they were all related but that none seemed to be brothers.  The PA records simply do not indicate any such relationships.  Specifically, though, John was not brother to Richard.  Richard is known to have had a brother, John, who stayed in Maclesfield, near Chester.  Michael did not sign his name as Hough, but as Huff, which would indicate he was somewhat removed from the others.  He died in 1687.  One other person, Stephen HUGH, probably died soon after arrival, as his widow remarried in the 12th month, 1684/85, to Thomas Norbury.  It is questionable that he was a HOUGH at all.  The same can be said for Walter HOUGH, who was an overseer of Highways in 1680 in what was later Bensalem Twp of Bucks Co.  As he came earlier than the Cheshire families, he may have had a different origin.  There was also a William HOUGH who on the 26th day, 4th mo, 1684, received warrant for survey of a Philadelphia lot between Front St., Swamp, 2d St, and Enoch.  No other records have been found for him and he did not seem to be a Quaker.  Some people have mentioned a Daniel HOUGH as an early arrival, but the source of their information is not known.  In view of the traditions of some HUFF/HOUGH descendants of the PA/NJ families, it would be very useful to find some records of an early Quaker Daniel HOUGH of PA and NJ.

 

     If copies of Hough in Bucks Co, Pennsylvania... are still available, they can be obtained from Mary Rachak, 4439 S. Lowell Blvd, Denver, CO 80236.  If not now available, microfilm copies can probably be obtained from the LDS Family History Center.  I'm sure Lou donated a copy to that library. 

 

     I was able to correspond with Capt. Earl P. Huff (Hough and/or Huff Families in England and America) before his death, and he wanted to establish that his ancestor, Michael HUFF of MD and PA, was descended from the PA Quaker group.  He had no direct line to this group, and there had been a John HOUGH transported to MD at about the same time the Quakers were settling in PA.  The only real connection he had was that there had been a Michael Huff among the Quakers, and 100 years later, there was a Michael Huff who was his ancestor.

 

     I can say that Capt Huff was in no way satisfied with his lineage of the family in England, and he wanted me to work on it.  I was in Thule, Greenland, when we were corresponding, and he died before I got back to research.  The lineage which he outlined was the best he could do with the available information.  I could see that much more primary data was required before it could be quoted as a proper lineage.  That is what I hold today.  There is no authentic, proven lineage for any Hough of English origin more than one or two generations before the person who came to America.  Further, I have done no English research, and I do not plan to do any.  But I can recognize proof of a lineage when I see the documentation for it.  In recent years, more information may have become available from English parish registers and other sources.  For those who are interested, Capt. Huff placed his book in the Library of Congress, and he specifically did not copyright it so that others could get copies made without reservation.  The Librarian of the Library of Congress will copy the book, or any part of it, for the normal fee for such work, which I believe is 25 cents per page.

 

     I would say the information in Virkus, or in Colonial Families of the United States, is as accurate as the donor wanted it to be.  The compilers could check the entry for logic, but generally did not require detailed proof.  So I would use those sources with caution.

 

     There is some evidence that families from the early Quaker arrivals later went to NC.  Specifically, Daniel and Joseph, sons of John and Hannah, were together in NC by about 1736.  Later Joseph settled in Anson Co, NC, near Samuel HOUGH, who had settled in Anson Co, by 1748.  It is thus possible that some of the early settlers in PA who disappeared from the records there went to NC.  Of course, there were 33 monthly meetings of Quakers in NC, mostly from PA; but these HOUGH families did not seem to be members in NC.  Later, there were several families in Stokes and Surry counties who were active Quakers.  Their descendants believe they were grandchildren of John and Hannah.

 

2 Feb 1993.