This ancient and distinguished surname, having no less than twelve Coats of Arms, and with several notable entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. The primary source of Arnold is the Norman-French personal name "Arnaut, Ernaut, Hernaut", itself coming from the Old German "Arnald, Arnold, Arnolt", a compound of the elements "arn", eagle, and "wald", rule. One Roger filius (son of) Ernaldi appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, and an Arnoldus de Bolonia was noted in the Red Book of the Exchequer, dated 1212.The surname was first recorded towards the end of the 12th Century (see below), and further early examples include: William Arnold (Suffolk, 1277), and John Arnoud (Cambridgeshire, 1279). The second possibility is that Arnold is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational name from either of two places thus called: Arnold in Nottinghamshire and in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Recorded respectively as "Ernehale" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Aernhale" in the 1190 Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, both places have as their compound elements the Olde English pre 7th Century "earn", eagle, and "halh", a nook or remote valley. One Roger de Arnhal was noted in the Book of Fees for Nottinghamshire. Thomas Arnold, aged 30 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Plaine Joan" bound for Virginia, in May 1635, was an early settler in the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Puntius Arnaldi, which was dated 1196, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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