Recorded as Harfoot, Harefoot, Harfitt, Harefeet and possibly others, this is a truly ancient English surname. Although quite rare it is one of the earliest of all names which can be recognized as surnames that may have become hereditary. In this case we have the recording of Harrold Harafot in the Old English Bynames Register for the city of London, in the year 1038. This was thirty years before the Norman Invasion of 1066. One hundred and fifty years later in the pipe rolls of the county of Lincoln we have the recording of Robert Harefot, and in Worcester in 1221, that of Samson Harefot. The origins of the surname are open to conjecture, but are probably Norse-Viking. Pre 7th century Norse has the word "harfotr" which does literally mean "Hare foot" but realistically may have been a nickname for a fast runner, or possibly an official messenger. Nicknames form one of the largest groups in early medieval surnames, in fact there are researchers who claim that in essence all surnames started out as a form of nickname. This name whether as a personal name or a surname is also rare in that it survived the Norman Conquest, when for two hundred years it became politically correct in England and Scotland to "adopt" French names. The Conquest was followed a century later by the famous Crusades to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. This also included a major introduction of "biblical " names into Northern Europe in the 12th century, but this name survived them all.
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