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From: Bill Hough <>
Subject: Pronunciation of "HOUGH"
Date: Fri, 12 May 2006 16:51:08 -0400
References: <000c01c6755b$8bcfc140$0400a8c0@traceyhm3p3tx0>
In-Reply-To: <000c01c6755b$8bcfc140$0400a8c0@traceyhm3p3tx0>

Having lived with this name for almost 70 years, I have heard somewhere
between 20 and 30 pronunciations. The best presentation I have seen on
the subject came from Granville Hough.

"Origin of Early Hough Families. By Granville 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
rebellious 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 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 are not a phonetic "huff". Conversely, anyone who knows that
his 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, possibly from the
Dane invasion before the time of Alfred the Great. There are Scottish
families, too, who more often than not spell their names 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, and 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."

End of Granville Hough essay.

The only thing I can add is that on a visit to Scotland a few years ago,
the hotel manager insisted that my name should be pronounced "hock", as
in ham! Evidentily that part of a pig is spelled Hough in and around
Glasgow. I, by the way, fit Granville's description of a descendant of
a Cheshire Hough, and therefore go by the "huff" pronunciation.

Bill Hough

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