This rather English-appearing surname of HARKEY in fact, derives from the Irish O'hEarcain, and belonged originally to the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal. It is still found mainly in County Donegal, where they became known as the Scotch Irish, having been taken to Ireland by Scottish settlers. The family named Harkin emerged as a Scottish Clan in the northern territory of Norfolk, where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Topcroft with a manor and estates in the shire. They are believed to be descended from Norwegian King Haken the Good or Haken the Broadshouldered. During the religious conflicts of the 17th century, many were banished to the New World. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. 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. Early records of the name mention Edwinus Rogerus Harka, who appears in County Norfolk in the year 1175, and John Hardekyn was recorded in Norfolk in the same year. John Herkyn was documented in 1327 in County Essex, and Robert de Harkyn of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name is also spelt Harkins and Harkiss. 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 coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. ((Harken).
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