This very unusual surname is of Norman origin, introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066 in the form of a personal name, "Hersent", or "Hersant", the feminine formation. The Normans had adopted the name from the Old German personal name "Heirsint", composed of the elements "heri" or "hari", meaning "army", and "sint", truth. In England the personal name is first recorded in the Red Book of the Exchequer for Norfolk in 1166, as "Hersent". The surname development since 1276 (see below) has included: William Herseynt (1297, Cornwall); John Hersent (1327, Suffolk); and William Arsent (ibid.). The modern surname can be found recorded as Harsant, Harsent, Hersant, Hassent, Arson and Asson. Recordings from English Church Registers include the christening of Samuell, son of Samuel Harsunt, on April 14th 1636, at Chigwell, Kent, and the marriage of Christopher Harsant and Susanna Bonas at St. Katherine by the Tower, London, on December 13th 1751. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Harsent, which was dated 1276, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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