The surname of HARVEY was originally of English origin, the name is found mainly among Ulster settlers, prominent throughout County Wexford. 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 definate 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. Hervey is the name of an English family whose influence greatly increased in the early 18th century due to their support of the Hanovarian succession. Their earliest recorded ancestor was John Hervey (born 1200) of Bedfordshire. The manor of Ickworth, where the family seat is located was brought into the family on the marriage of Thomas Hervey of Thurleigh, Bedfordshire in 1457. They became Earls of Bristol in 1714, and Marquesses of Bristol in 1826.
It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Bargy Castle, County Wexford, originally of Bosworth, County Leicestershire. The family settled in the former county as early as the year 1590.
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