Recorded in many spellings including Hart, Harte, Heart, Hort, Horth, Hought, Hurt, and probably others, is English. It has several possible origins. It may have been a metonymic for a hunter of deer, but more likely it was a medieval nickname surname either for someone who bore a fancied resemblance to a stag or hart, or because they were a fast runner. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Old English word "herot" which in Middle English became "hurt or hort". The surname dates back to the mid 11th Century, (see below) ,and early examples of the recordings include Roger Hert in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1166, and Reginald Hurt in the Records of the Knight Templars of England in 1185.Early examples of surviving church recordings in the diocese of Greater London include John Hort, who was christened on June 3rd 1547, at St. Andrew Hubbard with Mary at Hill, Roger Horth, who was christened on March 6th 1612, at St. Botolphs without Aldgate, and James Houth, who was christened on November 2nd 1671, at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aelfric Hort. This was dated 1060, in the Old English Bynames list, during the reign of King Edward, the Confessor, 1042 - 1066. 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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