Heyworth: Origin and meaning of surname

The surname Heyworth is an ancient Anglo-Saxon surname. It belongs to the group of locational or habitational names that were derived from places such as farms, parishes, villages and towns with established names, where a family lived in or near such a settlement. The name is derived from the Old English words “haga” and “worth”. When used in combination, they meant “enclosure with a hedge”. Also, the Old English word “hege-weard” (hayward) meant ‘guardian of the fence or hedge’ or ‘enclosure-protector’. The original duties of the hayward seemed to have been to protect the fences around the Lammas lands when enclosed for hay from February to August. These lands stretched from the medieval towns of Candlemass and Lammas. The hay meadows were very valuable and the hayman’s general duties also included the prevention of cattle from breaking through into the enclosed fields and growing crops. These hedges were non-permanent, dead hedges that could easily be erected and removed.1-3 

The most likely possibilities of English settlements where the surname could have originated at, are Haworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Hayward’s Heath in Sussex, Heywood in Lancashire and Heiwode (Heywood) in Wiltshire.1,3,4

Numerous variations of the surname such as Heyworth, Hayworth, Haworth, Hawoth, Haueworth, Howarth, Howorth, Haywood, Heywood, Heyward and Howard, and others appeared over centuries, as spelling in medieval times was a highly imprecise process, even for the literate. English was a developing language influenced by its ruling royalties, surrounding nations and the Latin-speaking Roman Catholic Church.1,4,5


  1. Heyworth surname, family crest & coat of arms. https://www.houseofnames.com/heyworth-family-crest
  2. Hedge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedge
  3. Reaney, P.H. (& Wilson, R.M.) 1961. A dictionary of British surnames. 2nd Ed. Routledge and Kegan Paul: London
  4. Last name: Heyworth. http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Heyworth
  5. English-language spelling reform. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-language_spelling_reform