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Surname Hawking - Meaning and Origin

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Hawking: What does the surname Hawking mean?

The last name Hawking is an English surname derived from the Old English hawking, meaning 'to hunt with falcons.' The occupational surname was originally used to indicate someone who specialized in the sport of falconry. Falconry has been popular in England since the 12th century, so the last name Hawking is likely centuries old.

The act of hawking was seen as an elite profession, as it required a nobleman or lady to own a falcon and to be able to afford the time, resources, and expertise required to train and care for the bird. Thus, the name Hawking may have originally been associated with prestige and wealth.

In modern days, the name Hawking is typically synonymous with the scientist and brilliant mind Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. He is known for his groundbreaking work on the nature of black holes, as well as his best-selling book A Brief History of Time. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 21, but he went on to achieve great heights despite his physical hardships, and he was eventually awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009. His incredible work and story have earned him a place in the ranks of the most famous and influential people of our time.

The last name Hawking is now widely associated with Stephen Hawking’s achievements, but its original meaning of a skilled falconer carries on in its association with nobility and in its historical roots.

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Hawking: Where does the name Hawking come from?

The last name Hawking is most common today in the United Kingdom. It is an Anglo-Saxon surname which originated in the 12th century and was derived from hafoc, meaning "a hawk or falconer". The name has also spread to many other parts of the world including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Ireland.

In the United Kingdom, the Hawkings can be found mostly in the south and west, primarily in the shires of Dorset, Devon, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire. There is also a noticeable presence in London and the Midlands. In England, the highest concentration of the name can be found in the county of Devon. The Hawkings here trace their roots back to the 17th century.

In the United States, the name Hawking is most commonly found in the states of California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. The earliest American Hawkings were probably settlers from England who arrived in the 17th century. The Hawkings can also be found in Canada, especially in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.

Overall, the Hawkings are still a rare surname in comparison to the common Smiths and Johnsons of the world. It aptly reflects the sturdy, but solitary nature of its ancestors and may indicate the path of the American Dream for many of its descendants.

Variations of the surname Hawking

The surname Hawking is of English origin and is derived from the Old English word haw, meaning ‘small hawk’. The name Hawking is derived from the occupation of the first known individual to carry the name who was a falconer or bird catcher. variants, spellings and surnames of this origin include Halking, Hawing, Hawin, Hawkin, Hawkinge, Hawkings, Hawkingson, Hawkins, Hawkinso, Hawkinson, Hoakin, Howkin, Howkins, Howkison, and Hokin.

Hawkin is recorded as being the earliest spelling of the name and can be found in the Doomsday Book in 1086. From this time forward there is evidence of the name being in use throughout England, with Hawkyn being recorded in 1324 in the County of Nottingham and William Hocking being recorded in 1414 in the Feet of Fines for Sussex.

The modern day surnames of Hawkings and Hawkins still exist in England today and further afield across the world. The 1881 census of England and Wales records around 2300 people with the surname Hawking while the 1981 census records 25681 people with the Hawkins surname.

Variants of the name are also popular outside of England as the surname is fairly common in Scotland, Ireland and the USA. The name also has a presence in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, the most common variants are Hawkings, Howkins and Howkison and the first recorded immigration of people with the surname arriving in America dates back to 1635, where John Hawking made the journey from London to Virginia.

Famous people with the name Hawking

  • Stephen Hawking: Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was considered one of the most brilliant scientists of all time. He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963, which eventually left him confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a computerised communication system. He wrote several books, including A Brief History of Time and appeared in popular culture, including The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the Theory of Everything which tells his life’s story.
  • Jane Hawking: Jane Hawking is Stephen Hawking’s first wife and mother to his three children. She has written several books and was portrayed in the movie The Theory of Everything by Felicity Jones.
  • Lucy Hawking: Lucy Hawking is Stephen Hawking’s daughter and an award-winning writer, journalist, and the author of over 30 books. She has written best-selling children’s fiction and a series of science books with her father Stephen Hawking.
  • Timothy Hawking: Timothy Hawking is Stephen Hawking’s son and works as an engineer and has written a book about his experience with his father.
  • George Hawking: George Hawking is Stephen Hawking’s second-born son who works as an art curator and runs the Stephen Hawking Foundation. The organisation works to spread awareness of Stephen Hawking’s life and work.

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