Recorded in a number of spellings including the widely recorded Hanhard, and the slightly less so Hanhardt, Hanhart, Hanharth, Hanharst, and the much rarer, and what is apparently an English form in Handsheart, this is a surname of Germanic origins. The probable origin of the name although not the name itself, is pre 7th century. It appears to mean literally 'Hard John' from the ancient Johann or Hans, the English John, all developments of the Hebrew 'Jochan' meaning 'first' or 'chosen' one. To this first name has been added the word 'hard', meaning hardy, brave or strong. It is also just possible that the surname could be from 'hand' meaning a hand, and hard, as above, to give the meaning of 'hard hands,' and if so a nickname for a blacksmith, or at least somebody who needed strong hands in their work. However to add to the confusion there are hundreds of German surnames which were deliberately 'created' from about the 17th century. This was at a time of great social unrest aggravated by the usual religious divides, and the cause of mass emigration. Many emigrants settled in Germany where they were given as identification what came to be called 'ornamental' names. This may be one. 'Hans' itself is a very early recording, Hainrich Hans from Ringlers, appearing in the registers of the year 1357, although as a compound it is much later. It seems to be particularly associated with the German town of Rietberg in Westfalen. Examples from the surviving church records of that town include Johannes Hanharth on June 7th 1760, Bartholomew Hanhart on September 29th 1797, and Peter Handhardt on August 26th 1852.
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