This English surname may be borne in Ireland by some descendants of English settlers of that name, but most HEARNS families will be of Irish descent, their forefathers having adopted this English surname as an anglicized form of the Irish O'hEachthigheirn or O'hEachthighearna, more widely anglicized in Ireland as Ahearne or Aherne. Hearn is the form widely favoured in County Waterford, where it is still well represented. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being generally in the 11th century, and indeed some were formed before the year 1000. In England HEARNS was a locational name 'the dweller at the herne' from residence in a nook or corner. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. Early records of the name mention Henry en le Hurne, 1273 County Bedfordshire. Thomas in the Hurne, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll tax of 1379. William Crossland married Mary Hurne, at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1773. The name is also spelt as Hearne, Hurn, Hurne and Herne. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. 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. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
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