This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and indicates a British rank of nobility (in the Middle Ages frequently used as an equivalent of the Norman "Count"). However, it must be said that rarely if ever were the original namebearers also holders of the rank in question. Noble names, i.e., King, Baron, Knight and Earl, were originally given as a nickname either to one who played such a part in a medieval play or pageant, or to a servant employed in a noble household. This name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "eorl", meaning "earl", and the surname was first recorded towards the end of the 11th Century (see below). In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Earl(e), Hearl(e) and Hurle(s). Recordings from London Church Registers include, the marriage of John Earle and Annes Heale at St. Giles' Cripplegate, on January 7th 1598. One John Earle was an early settler in the New World Colonies, he is recorded as being granted a ticket to sail from the Barbadoes to London on the ship "Defyance" in April 1679. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a red shield with three gold escallops, a bordure engrailed gold, the Crest being a nag's head erased black, maned gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lefuin Eorl, which was dated 1095, in "Records of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds", Suffolk, during the reign of King William 11, known as "Rufus", 1087 - 1100. 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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