This distinguished surname, with thirty entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and having no less than forty Coats of Arms, is of early medieval English origin, and is a patronymic form of the medieval male given name Harry, itself a pet form of Henry, from the Old French "Henri", via the Old German "Haimric", composed of the elements "haim", home, and "ric", power. Introduced into England by the Normans after the onquest of 1066 in the form "Henri", the name became enormously popular and was borne by eight kings of England. It appears as "Henricus" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and subsequently generated a great variety of diminutive and pet forms including Herry, Harry, Hann, Hal and Hankin. One Harry Hasket was noted in Cambridgeshire in 1270, and a John Harryson appears in Records of the City of Sheffield, Yorkshire, dated 1445. A large and influential American family of the name are descended from one Benjamin Harrison, who emigrated from England to Virginia in 1633 - 1634. These include William Henry Harrison (1773 - 1841), and Benjamin Harrison (1833 - 1901), both of whom became president of the United States. The rare form of "Harrisson", is recorded in Chester in 1608 as Harrysson; and at Northenden, Cheshire in 1621 as Harrissone, before Robert Harrisson appears in Peover, Cheshire on July 17th 1682 as a christening witness. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Harriesone, which was dated 1355, in the "Calendar of Pleas for the City of London", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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