Recorded in several modern spelling forms including Hartas, Hartiss and Hartus, this is an English north country surname. It is of medieval origins and it would seem that most if not all of the early recordings are from the county of Yorkshire. The surname spelling is misleading. It has nothing to do with a "hart", but refers to a person who dwelt at a 'haer hus', of which the literal translation is 'hard house', but the specific meaning would have been a house built of stone. This was from a time when most houses were simple structures of mud and wattle or at best wood. Over the centuries there have been a number of different spelling forms, and early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving registers include Alice Hartas at Brompton near Sawley in North Yorkshire, in 1559, whilst in the surviviong registers of the city of London we have examples such as William Heretace, who was christened at St. Dunstans in the East, Stepney, in the year 1609. Others include Matthew Hartiss who was christened at Christ Church Spitalfields in 1655, and Henry Hartus who married Jane Mannering at St. Michaels church, Foster Lane, in 1680. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.