Recorded as Harkin, Harkins and Harkiss, this is an English diminutive and patronymic surname. It is said to originate from either the pre 7th century personal name Heard or the later Norman-French Harry. If the former it is Anglo-Saxon from the word hard, meaning hardy or brave. It is also found as a short form of various compound names with Hard as a first element, such as the Heardwulf, meaning brave wolf, or Heardmann, meaning brave man. In some cases the surname may derive from the Norman personal name Harry, with the same origin. The first recording of Harry as a surname occurs in the Subsidy Tax rolls of 1332 in Worcestershire, with that of Nicholas Harri, whilst John Harekyn is recorded in Colchester, Essex, in the same year, and John Harkin married Jane Wilsone at St. Lawrence Jewry, in the city of London, on December 7th 1595. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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