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Hearst Coat of Arms / Hearst Family Crest

The surname of HEARST was a locational name 'the dweller at the hurst' a wood or thicket, from residence nearby. The name is also spelt HIRST, HERST, HURST and HURSTE. Thomas de HERST, who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, appears to be the first of the name on record. 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. 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. Other records of the name mention Robert dela Hurste, documented during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307). Agnes del Hyrst of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Baptised, John, son of Robert Hirst, at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1614. The acquisition of surnames in Europe and England, during the last eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in cultures and traditions. On the whole the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working class or the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. The bulk of surnames in England were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in place names into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. A notable member of the name was William Randolph HEARST (1863-1951) the American newspaper owner, born in San Fransisco, the son of a newspaper proprietor. After studying at Harvard he took over the 'San Fransisco Examiner' in 1887 from his father. His career inspired the Orson Welles Film 'Citizen Kane' (1941).

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last updated on: Mar. 19th, 2014

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