Recorded in a number of spellings including Hearn, Hern, Hearner, Hirn, Hearnes, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is either topographical and describes a person who lived by a hyrne or locational for somebody who came from a place so called. Hyrne was a pre 7th century word for a hidden corner of land or perhaps a bend in a river. The famous auther Chaucer records that on his travels he was often "Lurking in hernes, and in lanes blinde". The places known as Herne in the county of Kent and Hirn in the county of Hampshire are examples of locational names which have produced surnames. Another possible origin is from the heron bird, as the word hern can also refer to the heron, so there is a possibility that in some cases the surname was originally a nickname for a person thought by his peer group to in some way, resemble the bird! Early examples of surname recordings taken from surviving church registers include that of Alice Hearn, who was christened at St. Martin Ludgate's, on December 15th 1579, another Alice, who married William Harneyman, on July 23rd 1584, at Allhallows, London Wall, whilst on December 7th 1590, Anne Hearnes married Thomas Shininge at St. Stephan's, Coleman Street, city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gunnora de la Hurn. This was dated 1279, in the Curia Regis Rolls of the county of Hampshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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