The surname Hughes is the 88th most popular surname in the United States according to the US Census name frequency server. It is 17th in the United Kingdom. The surname, Hughes, is derived from the Welsh ap Hugh (son of Hugh) and from the Milesian O'Haodha, O'h Aodha or O'Haedha (aodh being the equivalent of Hugh) pronounced in Ulster O'Hugh. The word ‘Hugh' sometimes meant soul, mind or spirit; sometimes affability and comfort; sometimes, as in the Gaelic, a guest or stranger.
As an early name Hugh held a very important position, and it is clothed in holy associations. There was a 'St. Hugh'. Abbot of Cluny, 1109; 'St. Hugh' Bishop of Grenoble, 1132; 'St. Hugh' Bishop of Lincoln, 1200; and, above all, the celebrated infant martyr, 'St. Hugh,' of Lincoln, crucified by the Jews of that city in 1250. This event happened just at the best time for affecting our surnames, as their heredity tendency was then becoming especially marked. The Welsh ap Hughs came to Ireland about the seventeenth century and soon changed their names to Hughes, and the Irish bearing the Milesian O'Haedha for their family name, to avoid the persecutions to which the Irish Catholics were subjected by their English conquerors, shortly afterward did the same. One line of Hughes descends from the fifteen noble tribes of Gwynedd, Princes of Wales, taking up along the line ancestors who rather tax the orthography of this simplified date. There was Hugh ap Kynric and his wife Gwenllian, daughter of John Vychan ap John ap Iruffydd ap Owen Pygott. One inserts Hugh or Hughes into the names of their descendants wherever most convenient. Hewes and Huse are forms of the name frequently found in colonial records, when one style of spelling was as good as another Abel Huse, born in London, settled in Newbury, Massachusetts, with his wife Mary, in 1635. They had sons Thomas and James, and a Captain Huse, born 1730, is called the son of James. Other pioneers, or founders of families, were Richard Hughes, 1640, of Guilford, Connecticut; Arthur, 1676, of Salem, Massachusetts, and John, of Hatfield, a soldier.
Hugh is an English patronymic name, from the Old French given name Hue or Hughe, which was brought to England by the invading Normans.There are any number of given names with the Germanic element -hug = heart. Hugh is a shortened form, and was a popular name in England, partly due to St. Hugh of Lincoln (d. 1200). Variations are Hugo, Hewe, Hew. Cognates include Hugo, Hugues, Hue, Hugon, Gon, (French); Huc, Uc (Provencal); Ugo, Ughi (Italian); Hugk, Hug, Huge (German), Haugg, Hauch (Franconia); Huyghe (Flemish). Hughes is a patronymic version, as are Hughs, Huws, Hewes, Hews, Hughson, Hewson, howson, Hooson, FitzHugh, D'Ugo, Hauger, Huygens names which ultimately evolved to HUGHES.
The HUG part of HUGHES means "of the heart"
Hughes Spelling Throughout the Centuries
1. Hughes 2. Hughs 3. Hugh 4. O'Haodha 5. O'h Aodha 6. O'Haedha 7. O'Hugh 8. Ap Hughs 9. Hewes 10. Huse 11. Hughe 12. St. Hugh 13. Hugo 14. Hewe 15. Hew 16. Hugues 17. Hue 18. Hugon 19. Gon 20. Huc 21. Uc 22. Ugo 23. Ughi 24. Hugk 25. Hug 26. Huge 27. Haugg 28. Hauch 29. Huyghe 30. Huws 31. Hughson 32. Hewson 33. Howson 34. Hooson 35. Fitzhugh 36. D'Hugo 37. Hauger 38. Huygen 39. O'Haedha
EDITED BY: Auston Scott Hughes