This very unusual surname is of Germanic origins, although quite rare even in its home country. It is believed to derive from "ara", an ancient word which describes an "era", and would originally have been given as a descriptive nickname for one who was born in a certain period, or who, for whatever reason, was perceived to be associated with an "era". This type of "ornamental" surname is not unusual in Saxon countries, and takes many forms ranging from terms of endearment to mythical plants or flowers. The first hereditary surnames in Germany are recorded from the 13th Century, perhaps a century later than England and France. However, they did not become either uniform or stabilized until the 16th Century in the South and later still in the North. Examples of the surname recording includes: Peter Arra, the son of Johan and Sophia (nee Coersten) Arra, christened at Juechen Evangelist Church, Rheinland, on December 27th 1736, and Johan Heindrich Arr and his wife Margaret Cecillia (nee Berinkammen), at the christening of their daughter Catherina Elisabeth, on January 26th 1755, at Berlinstadt, Brandenburg. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Arnold Arra, which was dated November 12th 1733, a christening witness at Juechen, Rheinland, during the reign of Emperor Charles 1V of the German Empire, 1711 - 1740. 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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