One unique origin for the name of Hogarth is unlikely. Its most common spellings today are derived from a wide variety of spellings that themselves developed from the undisciplined approach to orthography prevalent in earlier centuries when each scribe wrote the name as it sounded to him. In most cases the name was a sound before it was a spelling, and a search for the meaning of the sound can be very frustrating for a researcher who relies on dictionaries and reference books compiled by scholars who seldom agree on either origin or etymology.
Origins are quoted authoritatively as Norse, Danish, German, Dutch, Old English and Old French. Derivation is given variously as high enclosure, hog pen, haggard "meaning strange and wild", hilltop ....... and many others. An English writer subscribed as "F.M.S." contributed to the debate in 1868 "....... there is scarcely any doubt that the founder of the family was a sturdy yeoman -- whether Ancient Briton, Dane, Northman, or Anglo-Saxon, can hardly now be decided -- who dwelt at the hog-garth of some Cumberland or Westmoreland clearing."
That great Scottish scholar Cosmo Innes insisted that "Hagart, Hogarth" developed from a place name, but in Scotland today none exists that might be easily claimed. However, the earliest occurrence of the written name, recorded as variations around the spelling of Hougard, is not in Scotland but in what is now Belgium, associated with the fief of Hugardis (today Hoegaarden, the "en" ending is the plural, a few miles southeast of Louvain). Erlebold de Hougaerde, Count of Lommegau, married Alpais, daughter of Charles the Simple, and Erlebold's heiress daughter Alpaide de Hugarde married Godfrey de Rumigny, Lord of Florennes, leaving one son, Arnoul de Rumigny whose second son, Arnoul, inherited his grandmother's lands as Arnoul de Hougarde. (Arnoul's elder brother Godfrey was Lord of Rumigny, his next younger brother Gerard was Bishop of Cambrai and his youngest brother Eilbert was Abbot of St André.)
Arnoul's descendants have not been traced with certainty, but some are known to have served their overlords the Counts of Louvain who became the Dukes of Brabant (e.g.Henri being hostage for the Duke in 1191 and Maître Henri being the Duke's steward in 1209), and thus the retinue of Jocelyn de Louvain (brother of Duke Godfrey II) could have included some of the name when he married Agnes de Percy in 1155 (and held lands in Yorkshire). Thus also might the retinue of Godfrey de Louvain (brother of Duke Henry the Warrior) when he married Alice de Hastings in 1199 (and held lands in East Anglia). Geoffrey Haget held lands in Yorkshire circa 1150. Hagarde held Hagardeston (today Haggerston in Northumberland) in the next century but perhaps earlier, as did William Haget (not as Geoffrey's heir) in Yorkshire circa 1160.
(It may be more than just coincidental that Gordon, a name whose origins have been as controversial as those of Hogarth, has long been associated with Hogarth, not only at Gordon in Berwickshire, believed by some to have been the family's cradle, but also in Galloway where Hogarths witnessed early Gordon charters, and it could be the same as the Gordinne that was a fief held of the Rumigny Lords of Florennes only a 7-mile ride from their castle -- Bastian de Gordinne, alive between 1158 and 1185, being its last known lord.)
On balance, recognising that in parallel many other Flemish-Hainault families were being established in England and Scotland at this time, there is a strong possibility that some of the Hougarde vassals of Louvain crossed the water and were granted lands in East Anglia (Andrew Hogard, there in 1454, appears to have been of an established family), in Yorkshire (in the Richmond area) and in Northumberland. It thus appears reasonable to accept that while some Hogarths today may perhaps owe their name to Hog-garth (sheep enclosure), and others to Hoog-garth (high enclosed garden), yet others may claim descent from a line that crossed from the Low Countries and produced branches that held lands in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Berwickshire and Galloway.
(This note has been about the name of Hogarth. It does not advance a claim of descent from Erlebold and Alpais. That needs probatory evidence. However, it does suggest, as was intended, how difficult it can be to insist with certainty on specific origins for some names.)
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