This interesting surname can be either English or sometimes Irish. It has a number of possible origins. As an English surname, it can derive firstly from an early medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble the heron bird. This was perhaps a particularly tall, thin man, or given the robust humour of the medieval period, the reverse! The source is the Middle English word 'heiroun', itself probably a development of the Old French 'hairon'. The surname from this usage is first recorded in the 12th century.The second origin is locational, from a village in North Yorkshire now called 'Harome'. This was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Harun', and means 'The place of the stone', from a derivative of the Old English pre 7th century 'haer', meaning stone, and presumably a prominent marker perhaps of a burial ground. The first recording (see below) is from this source. Thirdly it may be Irish, and from one of three ancient pre 10th century Irish Gaelic names. The modern spellings include Heran, Heron, O' Hearn, O' Hern, and MacEleron. The first possible origin is O' hEarain, meaning the male descendant of the feared one; the second O' hUidhrin', meaning the descendant of the swarthy one, and finally Mac giolla Chiarain, meaning the son of the follower of St. Ciaran. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Herun. This was dated 1150 a.d. in the Yorkshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135-1154. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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