The surname Hackett, which came to Ireland with the Anglo-Normans towards the close of the 12th century, is of Scandinavian origin, deriving from the Old Norse 'Haki' and Old Danish 'Hake'. Occasionally it was applied as a nickname from the fish called Hake. The family established themselves in Leinster where their name is commemorated in the townlands of Hacketstown and Ballyhacket Lower and Upper in Rathvilly barony, County Carlow. The first of the name to come to Ireland was Paganus Hackett. An early record shows he witnessed an endowment to the Priory of Kilmainham about the year 1180. An Irish family of this name were established in Ireland by William de Haket who accompanied King John and was granted estates in Tipperary in the early 13th century. The form Hackett was first used by his descendants in the sixteenth century. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.
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