This interesting and unusual name is of medieval English origin, of which it has two. According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charhles Barsdley the name is a diminutive of the ancient personal name 'Arcard' and this may be so. However the second and more usual explanation is that it derives from the French word 'hache' introduced at the Norman Conquest of 1066. If so it was an occupational surname for an axe maker, or possibly an axe user. The later Middle English word 'hatchet' had a slightly different meaning of a short handled variety, for use usually in battle with one hand, and may therefore have referred to a soldier using such a weapon. Early examples of the surname recording include Richard Archard of the county of York in the year 1273, and Johannes Hatcet in the Poll Tax rolls of the city of York in 1379. A namebearer listed in the National Biography, was Charles Hatchett (1765 - 1847), a chemist and treasurer of the Literary Club in 1814. He wrote a treatise entitled "Spikenard of the Ancients" in 1836. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Achet of Huntingdonshire in the Hundred Rolls of that county in 1272. This was during the first year of the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. 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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