This most interesting surname is of Scottish locational origin from a place called "Harcarse", in the parish of Fogo in Berwickshire, Scotland; the name of uncertain meaning. The placename is recorded in 1200 as "Harkarres" and in 1328 as "Harcarres". Variant spellings of the name include Harkes and Harkess, found in south east Scotland, and Hercus and Harcus, widespread in Orkney. Locational names were originally given as a means of identification to those who left their village or place of origin to settle elsewhere. The surname first appears in records in Scotland in the early 13th Century (see below). Alan de Harekare, distrained from debt in 1254, may be the Sir Alan de Harecares who witnessed a gift of land in Aython to the monks of Coldinghain 1259 and the Alan de Harecarr who witnessed a charter by Patrick, third earl of Dunbar in 1259. Marjorie, Roger and Thomas de Harkars, all of Berwickshire, rendered homage in 1296. Ann Herkes, daughter of John and Mary Herkes, was christened on March 11th 1777 at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, while Alexander, son of Robert and Elspith Herks was christened on January 22nd 1856 at Whitsome and Hilton, Berwick. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Harcarres, which was dated 1216, who was elected abbot of Newbottle, (Neubotle Abbey Records), during the reign of King Alexander 11, "Ruler of Scotland", 1214-1249. 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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