The surname of HASTINGS was originally a baptismal name 'Son of Hasting' from the Norman name Hastang, but most names are usually local in origin, from Hasting, Sussex. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. The name is also spelt HASTAIN, HASTIE and HASTY. Hastings is the family name of the Earls of Huntingdon, granted the title in 1529. Their descent can be traced from Sir Henry de Hastings (d.1268). The family once held great power; by marriage they were related to the kings of Scotland, and John. Ist Lord Hastings (1262-1312) was one of the claimants of the Scots throne in 1290. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. Early records of the name mention Robert de Hastinges, Domesday Book, 1086. Hugh de Hasting, Pipe Rolls Leicestershire, 1130. Hasting Moyse in the County of Suffolk, 1273. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that 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.
Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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