This is an English surname, but one of ultimately Norman origins. It is a variant of the surname Gerard, itself one of the most popular personal names introduced into the British Isles after the Norman conquest of 1066. Originally composed of the pre 7th century Germanic elements "geri" or "gari" meaning a spear, and "-hard", brave or strong, the name as a personal name, there were few surnames at the time, is recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as "Gerardus" and "Girardus". In the modern idiom there are nearly thirty recorded surname forms ranging from Gerald and Jarrold to Garrard, Gerard, Gerrard, Jarrard and Gerred.Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic surviving rolls and registers of the medieval period include: William Gerard, in the Assize Court Rolls of the county of Yorkshire in the year 1219, Henry Jerrard of the county of Essex in 1284, and William Garrarde in the Friary Rolls of Yorkshire in 1458. Among the several notable namebearers mentioned in the Dictionary of National Biography is Sir William Gerard, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1579. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Gerard. This was dated 1199, in the Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, and known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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