Well, according to Collins Universal Dictionary, a 'hog', or 'hogg', is a yearling sheep, not yet shorn.

A 'garth' is an enclosed piece of land.  The word has Viking origins and is still used in rural parts of Northern England today.

Just for the record, a sheep in it's second year is called a Teg.  I've never met any Tegarths though.

My cousin, Margaret Denham of Cleveland, who is a skilled genealogist and authority on the Hog(g)arths of North Yorkshire, has this to offer on the subject of spelling and pronunciation :-

With regard to the spelling of the HOG(G)ART(H), there really is no correct way. Nowadays we want spelling standardised, but 'in the old days' they weren't so bothered about it. Spelling of names (and places) in the parish registers, etc., depended on how the person writing it thought it should be. Even in wills, well into the 19th century the same names and words would be spelt differently within a few lines. Parish registers were usually compiled by the vicar/minister (who probably wasn't local). In the Egton registers the spelling was mostly HOGART, HOGGART, HOGGARTH. The Catholics mainly used HOGARTH.  HOGGARTH seems to be mostly a 'Whitby' development. Then, when Civil Registration came in, the spelling often depended on the Registrar's idea. Remember, most births were registered by the mother, who often signed with an X.

Imagine in 1756 a man goes to the vicar (reluctantly, because he is a Catholic) and says "Ah wants ti git wed".  The vicar takes his details for the reading of the banns. He asks the man's name - "Why, Jack Oggit, o'course".  "Oh", says the vicar, "that will be John Hogart" and the man says "Aye".  A vicar from the South of England would have great difficulty with the North Yorkshire accent.

I have found it best to record it exactly as it is in the original document, but it does make trees messy!

My uncle, Bernard Hogarth of Darlington, Co.Durham, gave me the following explanation of the origin of our family name:

"On the North York Moors the winter weather can often be pretty atrocious.  The walls surrounding the fields are constructed of the 'Dry stone walling' method, a system which uses interlocking, layered, rough, flat stones.  It's impervious to the weather and lasts for centuries.  An archaic name for a sheep enclosure built in this way is 'Hoggarth'."

- Well, fancy that!

And if you thought that was obscure...

Alan Hoggarth of Napier, New Zealand, says that his uncle was told by a Finnish contact that "Hoggarth was an ancient, and still preserved, family name in Sweden, literally meaning 'high estate' and associated with sheepfarming."

If you can elaborate on any of these explanations, or know of a different interpretation, we'd like to hear from you.