Recorded in over fifty spellings of which examples are shown below, this is a surname of usually Germanic and Anglo-Saxon origins. It derives from a baptismal personal name Ernault or Arnolt, of which the elements are "arn", meaning an eagle, and "wald", to rule. The personal name spread rapidly throughout Northern Europe in the period known as "The dark ages", roughly between the 6th and 11th centuries a.d., and following the fall of the Roman Empire. Examples of the spelling include Arnold, Arnhold, Arnout, Arnatt, Arnould, Arnaud, Ahrend, Arnaudi, Arlott, Arnaudin, Arnaiz, Arents and many others.The first country in the world to adopt hereditary surnames as we know them today was England, where they were first used in the century after the Norman-French Invasion of 1066. In the year 1086 the Normans completed a complete survey of England, what is known as the Domesday Book, the first gazetter of its kind produced anywhere. This contains no surnames as we were later to know them. An example of this name is that of Rogerus filius Ernaldi, recorded in the city of London, and the first known recording in any form. Other early examples include William Arnold of the county of Suffolk in 1277, whilst in Germany, Adler Arnoldt was recorded in Meskirch in 1282. In the 20th century John Arlott was a famous radio and TV cricket commentator. The first recorded spelling of the family name as a surname is believed to be that of Puntius Arnaldi. This was dated 1196, in the pipe rolls of the county of Devonshire, England.
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