This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from Hardstoft in Derbyshire. The placename was recorded as "Hertestaf" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Hertistoft" in the 1257 Feet of Fines, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Heorot", a byname from "heorot", hart, stag, with "toft", site, plot; hence "Heorot's plot". Locational surnames were developed when ormer inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. In some instances the surname may be of early medieval English origin, and an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nickname was given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress and occupation. The derivation of the nickname is from the Middle English "hard", hard, firm, with "staf", wooden pole, rod, and was given to someone who carried a staff; for example, a beadle, watchman or medieval officer of the law. On July 10th 1631, Elizabeth Hardstaff married Roger Millott at Annesley, Nottinghamshire, and Hellen Hardstaff married John James on August 2nd 1635, at the same place. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ann Hardstaffe, which was dated September 8th 1628, marriage to Edward Gillot, at St. Peter's, Nottingham, during the reign of King Charles 1, known as "The Martyr", 1625 - 1649. 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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