The surname of HIRST has the associated arms recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. The name was a locational name 'the dweller at the hurst' a wood or thicket, from residence nearby. 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. Early 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. Jame'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. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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