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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


Harness is a name of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from the personal name Agnes, which itself is derived from the Greek name Hagne, which means pure and holy. The name was also used in the Latin phrase Agnus Dei, which means lamb of God. The personal name Agnes was popularized by devotees, the early Christian martyr, Saint Agnes.

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The surname Harness was first found in the English midlands county of Nottinghamshire from very ancient times, where the family name held vast estates and were an important contribution to the early life and times of the county. They are recorded in the Domesday Book as holding lands and manors. The Domesday Book was compiled by Duke William in the year 1086 A.D.

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Harness have been found, including Anniss, Anness, Arness, Annison, Arnison, Annes and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Harness research. Another 193 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1402 and 1384 are included under the topic Early Harness History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Harness Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Harness family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Among the first immigrants of the name Harness, or a variant listed above to cross the Atlantic and come to North America were :

Harness Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • William Harness, who arrived in Texas in 1835
  • Wm Harness, who landed in Texas in 1835
  • Nehemiah J Harness, who landed in Mississippi in 1875

Harness Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Christopher Harness, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749-1752

Harness Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Harness arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir George Grey" in 1864
  • James Harness, aged 21, a labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Halcione" in 1875
  • Barlow Harness, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Halcione" in 1875
  • Henry Harness, aged 23, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waimea" in 1876
  • Jane Harness, aged 18, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waimea" in 1876

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  • Wetzel G. Harness, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1956, 1960
  • Forest Arthur Harness (1895-1974), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Indiana 5th District, 1939-49; Defeated, 1948; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Indiana, 1948
  • Forest Arthur Harness (1895-1974), American politician, U.S. Representative from Indiana
  • Charles Leonard Harness (1915-2005), American science fiction writer from Colorado City, Texas
  • Peter Harness (b. 1976), English playwright, screenwriter and actor
  • Wyn Harness (1960-2007), British journalist at The Independent from the newspaper's creation in 1986


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  1. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  7. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  10. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  11. ...

The Harness Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Harness Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 16 October 2015 at 12:40.

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