Recorded in English as Arlot, Arlott, Arlet, Harlot, Herlot, and In French Harlet, Harlin and Harlot, this is a very interesting surname of arguably pre - medieval French origins. If so it is occupational from Normandy in France, and probably entered England at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The fact that it was from Normandy also suggests that its ultimate origin may be Scandanavia, although of this we have no proof. What we do know is that the Normans, or the men from the North, in about the 8th century a.d.conquered much of Northern France, whilst their 'cousins' were equally hard at work in the British Isles. The word herlet or harlot in ancient times did not have the later associations of a loose woman. It described a servant, and probably male. The medieval poet Geoffry Chaucer in the famous Canterbury Tales has the entry 'A sturdy harlot went hem ay behind, he was a gentle harlot and kind.' The earliest known examples of recordings occur in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of the county of Cambridge in 1273. These are John le Harlet, and quite separately a woman called Muriel Arlot, showing that in those days women and men had equal property rights. These were lost in the time of King Henry V111th and not regained for nearly five hundred years. In 20th century England, John Arlott was a famous radio and television commentator. The coat of arms from the province of Lorraine in France has the blazon of a gold shield charged with silver heron on a red bend.
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