This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various minor places in Devonshire thus called, including Harcombe near Sidmouth in East Devon, and Harcombe, north east of Uplyme. The component elements of the placenames are believed to be the Olde English pre 7th Century "heore, hyre", gentle, pleasant, also forming the first element of Harberton and Harbourneford, Devonshire, ith "cumb", a coomb, deep hollow or valley. "Cumb" is an early loan word from the Celtic (Middle Welsh) "cwm", a deep valley, cognate with the Gaulish "cumba", and the Breton "komb".English placenames containing "cumb" are particularly widespread in the south-west, the reason being that narrow valleys of the coomb type are very common there. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. On September 27th 1596, Robert, son of John Harcomb, was christened in Clayhanger, Devonshire, and on October 16th 1661, John Harcoombe married a Jone Bow in West Bagborough, Somerset. The christening of John Harcomb, an infant, took place at Combe Florey, Somerset, on January 1st 1663. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gulielmus Hourcombe, which was dated September 26th 1569, marriage to Julianu Blake, at Wedmore, Somerset, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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