Meaning and Origin of: Harkness

Family name origins & meanings

  • Scottish : apparently a habitational name from an unidentified place (perhaps in the area of Annandale, with which the surname is connected in early records), probably so called from the Old English personal name Hereca (a derivative of the various compound names with the first element here ‘army’) + Old English næss ‘headland’, ‘cape’. The surname is also established in northern Ireland, where it was taken in the 17th century by settlers from Dumfriesshire.
  • A descendant of the Dumfriesshire family of this name, Stephen V. Harkness (d. 1888), amassed a fortune in the U.S. oil industry and was a partner of John D. Rockefeller Sr.; his son, Edward Stephen Harkness (b. 1874 in Cleveland, OH) was the president of the philanthropic Commonwealth Fund in the U.S. and a founder of the Pilgrim Trust in Britain.