The surname of HARINGTON was a locational name 'of Harrington', a town in Cumberland. 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 William de Harinton of the County of Lancashire in 1202. Ricardus de Heryngton was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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. In County Kerry this English name, which was taken to Ireland by settlers, is in Gaelic O'hlongardail. Sir John Harrington (1561-1612) was the English courtier and writer, born in Kelston near Bath. From Cambridge, he went to the court of his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I. His wit brought him into much favour, which he endangered by the freedom of his satires. In 1599, he served under Essex in Ireland, and was knighted by him on the field, much to the Queen's displeasure John Harrington (1611-1677) was an English political theorist, born at Upton in Northants. He studied at Trinity College, Oxford, travelled to Rome, and in 1646 became a personal attendant of Charles I. and attended him to the scaffold. In 1661, he was arrested for attempting to change the constitution, and went temporarily insane in prison.
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