Recorded as Herculas, Hercules, and Herculus in England and as the patronymics Herculson and Herculeson in the Shetland Isles off Scotland, this is a surname of possibly two separate origins. In all cases they may derive from the pre 7th century Norse-Viking name Hakki, since at various times the name has also been recorded in the Shetlands as Harcleson and Harkelson, however it is also possible indeed probable, that the English spellings are not Norse, but Greek. During the time of the famous Crusades which reached their height in the 12th century under the command of Richard the Lionheart, king of England, it became the fashion for returning Knight Templars to call their children by Greek or Biblical names. This was partly because the Christian armies had their headquarters in Greece, which they used as their bridgehead to launch attacks on the Muslims in Palestine, and in consequence they absorbed much Greek culture. This surname may be one of the rarer examples. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include those of William Hercules (also recorded as Herculus) at the church of St Margarets Westminster, on January 16th 1603, and in the Shetlands, William Herculason who married Christian Harryson at Delting, on January 24th 1752.
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