England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Harnfield family lived in Essex. Their name, however, is a local reference which indicates that the original bearer lived at or near a field belonging to someone by the name of Hand, hence Handfield. It is one of a number of names such as Handforth, Handford, Hanfirth, Hanfield, Handsacre, Handsworth, all of which derive from this source. The surname Hand comes from the Old English honde, and was a nickname used to identify a person by a peculiarity of the hands, such as size, great skill, or agility.
Early Origins of the Harnfield family
Essex where they were conjecturally descended from Ralph FitzThorold, who held the lands and villages of east, south, and west Hanningfield.
Early History of the Harnfield family
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Harnfield Spelling Variations
Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Handfield, Hanfield, Haningfield, Hangefield, Havingfield and many more.
Early Notables of the Harnfield family (pre 1700)
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Migration of the Harnfield family to the New World and Oceana
Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Harnfield or a variant listed above: Thomas Handfield who settled in Maryland in 1741.
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