Hearn and Related Surnames

Lerma E. Hearn

Chateau Du Heron

Chateau du Heron, Normandy
Built in the 10th Century

HeronFor about one thousand years, the name of the Hearn family has been associated with the heron. The English word "heron"--according to the 1986 version of Webster's New World Dictionary--comes from the Middle English "heroun", which came from the Old French "hairon".

At least one member of the family, Tihel de Heiron, traveled from Normandy in 1066 with William the Conqueror to England. He survived the Battle of Hastings, as his name is found on the Roll of Battle Abbey. Various copies of the Roll include the names "Heroun", "Heiron", or "Herne". These may all refer to the same individual, or there may have been more than one family member among the veterans.

According to "a venerable antiquarian" quoted by William T. Hearne in his Brief History and Genealogy of the Hearne Family (1895 and 1907), "Many who came over out of Normandy were nobles in their native country, whereby we understand them Lords and owners of such manours, towns, and castles from whence they took their denomination, or sirnames." Indeed, Hearne's book shows a picture of the Chateau du Heron, Normandy, built in the 10th century (above).

Whether some Norman nobleman chose the large bird as his "mascot", or whether a family castle was so named because it was near a heron gathering place, the name has been handed down through the generations, with many variations in spelling.

Hearne's Brief History mentions several spellings, including Hairun, Heiron, Heron, Hearn, Hearne, Herne, Hearon, and Herron. When William Hearne (d. 1691 ) left his Caribbean-based shipping business in the late 1600s and settled "back in the woods from Wicocomoco River" in what would later become the state of Maryland, he spelled his name with a final "e". Some eighty years later one of his grandsons dropped it, becoming Samuel Hearn (d. 1803).

As long as the coat of arms is the same, spelling variations can be ignored in reckoning family relationship. For a brief review of the "armorial identification" tying present day American Hearn(e)s to others, see the discussion "Hearn/Hearne Coat of Arms".

Other surnames mentioned in this site: Allen, Archer, Bean, Brashears/Brasseurs, Cason, Conner, Covington, Cuthbert, Duggan, Eady, Eubanks, Foster, Groce/Gross, Hanes, Hipp, Hubbard, Hyman, Ivey, Jackson, Jones, Joyce, Lewis, Mattox/Maddox, Morgan, Parker, Powell, Richford, Roberts, Robinson, Salmon, Sammon, Sammons, Sellman, Selman, Smith, Smithwick, Wade, Walker, Williams.

Useful link:

Hearne History Home, the web version of William T. Hearne's Brief History and Genealogy of the Hearne Family, based on his 1907 revision.

Hearn/Hearne References*:
    1. William T. Hearne, Brief History and Genealogy of the Hearne Family. (Examiner Printing Company, Independence, Missouri, 1895 and 1907). Reprinted by Higginson Book Company, Derby Square, Salem, Mass. 01970, 753 pages. This book is often referred to simply as "Hearne History". (See above for on-line version.)
    2. William T. Hearne, Addendum, 1912 (Examiner Printing Company, Independence, Missouri, 1912). 52 pages, beginning with p. 755, a direct continuation from last pages (753 and blank 754) of the 1907 edition. Out of print; available in some genealogical reference libraries.
    3. Eakins, Ruth Hearn, Hearn-Hearne History, 1993. 187 pages, available from the author: Mrs. Ruth Hearn Eakins, 19585 U.S. Hwy 421, Watha, NC 28471.
    4. Batchelder, Pauline Manning, compiler and editor, A Somerset Sampler: Families of Old Somerset County, Maryland, 1700-1776, 1994. Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society, Salisbury, Maryland 312 pages (Hearn/Hearne material on pp 127 - 160). Available from Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society, PO Box 3602, Salisbury, MD 21802-3602.

*Caution: Genealogical references may contain errors. William T. Hearne's books were to some extent based on handwritten materials mailed to him, some with very little substantiation. There are definitely some typographical errors. More importantly, some significant factual errors have been identified since their publication. One notable mistake concerns Rhoda Parker (1763 - 1823), wife of Jonathan Hearn (1760 - 1827). "Hearne History" identifies her as Jonathon's mother, the wife of his father Samuel Hearn (ca 1730 - 1803). Page 19 of Mrs. Eakin's book, based on Wm T. Hearne's book, perpetuates the error. Her genealogical charts, however, show the correct relationships. Somerset Sampler is based on careful study of original sources, and attempts to correct other mistakes relating to the first few generations of the William Hearne (d. 1691) family. Although this William named his wife Mary in his will, some researchers question whether she was Mary Cuthbert as described by Wm. T. Hearne.