Select Hardy Surname Genealogy

Hardy is an English and French surname that is derived from the Old French word hardi meaning “bold” or “courageous” or sometimes "foolhardy."  It probably emerged initially as a nickname for someone exhibiting those traits.  Hardy and Hardie are the two main spellings of the name.  Hardie is the Scottish version.

French Hardys include the 17th century playwright Alexandre Hardy and the 20th century singer Francoise Hardy.  But the French Hardys are outnumbered by the English Hardys by more than two to one
.  Still, many of the English Hardys may have had some French blood in them.

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England.  Hardy country may bring to mind the county of Dorset and the novels of Thomas Hardy.  But Hardy country should more properly be considered as Yorkshire where the first English Hardys may have originated and which has the largest number of Hardys today.

An early Hardy family of Yorkshire was said to have been descended from the Norman knight de Hardie in the 11th century.  The first traceable record was a John de Hardy of Wetwang, Driffield in the mid-1400’s.   A later John de Hardy, born around 1500 and thought to have been a descendant, made his mark as a merchant in London and married well.  George Hardy from his family emigrated to Virginia in 1646.

Hardy Flatts formed part of the Whitwell village in north Yorkshire.  A Widow Hardy was recorded as choking on a piece of bread near there in the 1500’s.  Ed Hardy was a carter in the area in the early 1700’s.  And Hardys at Thornton Dale at Wilton in north Yorkshire date from the late 1600’s. 

One Hardy family in Yorkshire seems to have originated in Westmoreland.  These Hardys were first recorded at Kirkby Lonsdale in 1571 on the death of Edmund Hardy.  Their home was Park House, some two miles outside of the town.  From this line came the curate and schoolmaster Rev. John Hardy of Kirkburton near Huddersfield.  He subsequently acquired the Birksgate manor house.  From this line also came the Rev. Thomas Hardy, the vicar of Mirfield.  The family history was recounted in Charles Hardy’s 1913 book The Hardys of Barbon

Later Hardys in Yorkshire included:  

  • Thomas Carteret Hardy, a colonel in the York Fusiliers in the 1780’s (he may have had Jersey roots as the Carterets were an important family in the Channel Islands).  From his line came the Victorian brother archivists and antiquarians Thomas Duffy and William Hardy.  
  • while John Hardy from humble roots in Horsforth near Leeds (his grandfather was a farm laborer there in the 1670's) became the principal owner of the Low Moor ironworks near Bradford in the early 1800’s.  His son Gathorne was a prominent Conservative politician and was created the Earl of Cranbrook in 1892.  
  • and another John Hardy from the Bradford area in the early 1800’s was the forebear of the Hardys of Odsal House in North Bierley.
Channel Islands.  There was a Le Hardy family at Jersey in the Channel Islands ever since Clement Le Hardy left France for that island in the 1360’s.  A later Clement le Hardy was Bailiff of Jersey from 1485 to 1493, but seems to have ended his days in a "verminous prison" after a disagreement with the Governor. 

Jean Le Hardy was the Solicitor General of Jersey in the 1650's.  Via his eldest son John came:
  • Sir Thomas Hardy, a Rear Admiral of the British Navy who died in 1732 and had a monument to him erected in Westminster Abbey.
Via a younger son Philip, appointed Commissioner of Garrisons on the neighboring island of Guernsey, came Charles who pursued a career in the British Navy and rose to be Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty.  Charles was:  
  • the father of Admiral Sir Charles Hardy, the colonial Governor of New York in 1755  
  • the father of Josiah Hardy, the colonial Governor of New Jersey in 1763  
  • and the grandfather of Temple Hardy,  a naval captain who saw action during the French Revolutionary Wars.
Dorset.  Jean Le Hardy was said to have departed Jersey for Dorset around the year 1490.  Possibly related were the Hardyes recorded at Sydling from about 1540.  Thomas Hardye gave his name to the Thomas Hardye school in Dorchester, completed in 1569.  His nephew Francis was the forebear of Nelson's flag captain Thomas Hardy and the writer Thomas Hardy:
  • the Hardys of Portersham led to the Captain Thomas Hardy who was immortalized by Nelson's dying words of Kiss me Hardy at Trafalgar in 1805. 
  • while the line to Thomas Hardy the writer, who was born in Dorchester in 1840, began with the marriage of John Hardey and Elizabeth Swyre in Owermoigne in 1746.
Scotland.  Hardie has been considered to have either Norman, Viking or Celtic origins.  The Viking origin refers to a Viking Hard tribe that had raided the British coast in the 10th century.  The Celtic explanation came later.  It was thought that many MacHardies in Aberdeenshire shortened their name to Hardie to avoid reprisals after the Highland defeat at Culloden in 1746.  Overall, the Norman explanation seems the most plausible. 

Hardie has been mainly a Lowland Scottish name.  William Hardy was recorded at Lanarkshire in the Ragman's Roll of 1296.  The spelling changed later to Hardie.  One family history began with the marriage of Robert Hardie and Marion Campbell at Alloa near Stirling in 1663; another with the marriage of David Hardie and Agnes Myles near Leuchars in Fife around the year 1690.  Matthew Hardie was a highly-regarded violin-maker in Edinburgh in the early 1800's, but he died poor.       

  Hardy in Ireland was generallly a name of English import, mainly found in Ulster.  But there was also a Hardy family of French Huguenot origin in Ireland.  Henry Hardy had first come to London from La Rochelle in France in the early 1700's.  His family later decided to settle in Ireland, first in Dublin and then in Cork where Henry and Marie Hardy made their home.   

America.  The early Hardys and Hardies in America were covered in Claude and Edwin Hardy's 1935 book Hardy and Hardie.

New England.   Thomas and John Hardy were thought to have been two brothers who came to Boston under Governor Winthrop in 1630.  Thomas settled first in Ipswich before moving onto Bradford, Massachusetts.  His home there was known as Groveland.   His descendants were numerous.  Meanwhile John made his home in Salem.

"The Hardy name has been perpetuated in Salem in many ways.  There is a Hardy Street, Hardy Rock, Hardy Wharf, and the Hardy House which was the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne." 

.  George Hardy from the Driffield family in Yorkshire came to Virginia in 1646, followed by his parents John and Olive twenty years later.  He was the owner of the famous Hardy mill in Isle of Wight county, built soon after his arrival and continuing in use into the 20th century.  The mill remained in Hardy hands until 1800:
  • Samuel Hardy was a delegate to the Continental Congress in the 1780's.  Hardy county in West Virginia was named in his honor.
  • Thomas Hardy migrated south with his family in 1785 to Newberry county, South Carolina.  The Hardys were to remain on his plantation home there until 1973.
  • Robert Hardy came to Chatham county, North Carolina around the year 1800.   His line led to W.H. Hardy, the founder of the towns of Hattiesburg and Laurel in Mississippi.
  • while another branch of the family headed to Kentucky.  James G. Hardy was elected its Lieutenant Governor in 1854 and Hardyville in Kentucky was later named after him.
The family story was told in Betty Couch's 1998 book Our Hardy Heritage.

Josiah Hardy, a sea captain, was possibly related to these Hardys.  Born in Virginia, he made his home in Chatham, Massachusetts in 1776.   On one cold winter's day ten years later, he and his party froze to death on their boat on their way to Boston.   His wife died soon after and their children became orphans.  Remarkably these Hardys later established themselves as a notable New England family.  The line was covered in Whitney Durand’s 2011 booklet Descendants of Josiah Hardy.

Pennsylvania.  There were Hardys who came later to Pennsylvania.  Their numbers included:
  • Robert Hardie who emigrated to Pennsylvania from Scotland in the 1740’s.  His son Robert and grandson David both served with the US Navy, Robert in the Revolutionary War and David in the War of 1812.
  • William Hardy, reportedly from Ireland, who came to Somerset county sometime in the 1770’s.  His descendants migrated west to Indiana and Iowa.   
  • and Jonas Hardy, the son of a Leeds woolen manufacturer, who arrived with his family at Lycoming city in the early 1820’s.  They moved onto Illinois in 1837.
Australia.  Thomas Hardy emigrated from Devon to South Australia in 1850.  He is believed to have been related to the Captain Thomas Hardy of HMS Victory fame in 1805.

Thomas started a vineyard in South Australiain 1853 and soon became the acknowledged wine grower in the region.  Thomas Hardy and Sons was his wine company and his son Robert and grandson Kenneth and great grandson Robert all followed in his footsteps.  A line also led to Tom Hardy, killed in an airplane crash in 1938, and his son James (later Sir James), a champion yachtsman.

Another Hardy, this time Arthur Hardy from Yorkshire, came out to South Australia somewhat earlier in 1839.  He grew rich in business in Adelaide and was reputedly one of the town’s wealthiest men in the early 1880’s.  However, he later overstretched himself and fell into debt.  Mabel Hardy’s 1959 booklet History of the Hardy Family told his family story in Yorkshire and Australia

Select Hardy Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Hardy Names

Thomas Hardy was the flag captain to Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Thomas Hardy
was an English novelist and poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  His novels were based in the rural setting of Dorset.
James Keir Hardie
was the first leader of the British Labor party, elected in 1906
Oliver Hardy was one part of the comic duo of Laurel and Hardy that were popular in America in the 1930's.

Select Hardys Today
  • 41,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 30,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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