also HOBBEL, HOBBIL, HOB-HALD, HOBIL, HOWBALL
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perhaps from Hob (n.) a familiar or rustic variation of the Christian name Robert or Robin;
Hence formerly a generic name for: a rustic, a clown;
but this does not explain howball
a 1553 - Ralph Roister Doister, A Comedy, Nicolas Udall;
see Example below
From: Ralph Royster Doyster,
By Nicholas Udall,
Entered on the Books of the Stationer's Company, 1566.
Printed by F. Marshal, 1821
Actus iij, Scæna iij.