This ancient and interesting surname has two possible origins; firstly, it may be from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Hereweald", its Old Norse cognate "Haraldr" or the Continental form "Herold" introduced to Britain by the Normans. These all go back to a Germanic personal name composed of the elements "heri, hari" meaning army, plus "wald" rule, which is attested in Europe from an early date; the Roman historian Tacitus records a certain "Carivolda", chief of the Germanic tribe of the Batavi, as early as the 1st Century A.D..Secondly, it may be an occupational name for a herald, deriving from the Middle English "Herauld", Old French "Herault", and is composed of the Germanic element "heri, hari" plus "wald", as before, used as a common noun. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century, (see below) and early recordings include Radulfus Harold (1196) in the Feet of Fines of Yorkshire, and Philip Harald (1327) in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. London Church Records list the christening of William Harold on the 22nd September 1578 at St. Mary Abchurch, and the marriage of James Harrold to Elizabeth Ashby on the 5th June 1597 at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Harold, which was dated 1171, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11 - The Builder of Churches, 1154-1189. 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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