The surname He can be traced far back to the Yellow Emperor period. However, the prevalent theory about the origin of the surname He is that it stemmed and branched from the surname Han.
Offspring of Shu Yu - the younger brother of King Wu of Zhou Dynasty - was conferred in place Han, hence the surname Han. During the Warring States Period State Qin conquered State Han. By then, Han-surnamed descendents left Han now in Henan Province and lived elsewhere.
The Han-surnamed who migrated to the Yangtze River and Huaihe River drainage areas often had their surnamed pronounced like He because of the local accent. When put in writing people tended to mistake it for He due to the similarity in pronunciation. Therefore, the Han-surnamed in these areas began to use He as their surname.
The surname He experienced five big booms, among which the most important was the southern migration.
According to historical records, Zhisu Duwei (Chief Commandant for Grain Collection) He Cheng migrated from Anhui Province to Fufeng in Shaanxi Province during the Emperor Wu period of Western Han Dynasty and became a distinguished family.
He Wu was a top official during the Emperor Ai period of Western Han Dynasty and held dominating power. His family prospered in Sichuan and the name spread far and wide.
Moreover, He Xiu in Shandong was an accomplished Confucian scholar.
When it came to the Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties and Ten States period some He-surnamed crossed the Yangtze River to move southward, with one branch migrating to Guangdong and Fujian provinces and another to Guizhou, Zhejiang and Yunnan provinces.
By People's Daily Online