This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon and Old French origin, and is one of the oldest recorded in England appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086 in its Old French (Norman) form of "Hugo a la Barbe", in Hampshire. As a surname it has grown very naturally from a nickname for a wearer of a beard, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "beard", and it often appears in early records in a prepositional form, such as Thomas Onelabarbe ("Thomas with the beard", 1280, Somerset). Between the 12th and 16th Centuries it was usual for men to be clean shaven, so the wearer of a beard was conspicuous during the crucial period for surname formation. The name could also be locational from Beard (village) in Derbyshire. There are variant forms created by dialect. These include Bard(e), first recorded in church registers from the 16th century. Examples of these recordings include John Barde, a witness at the church of St Botolphs without Aldgate, London, on March 16th 1594, and Ann Bard, who married one Matthew Rider at St Peters Church, Pauls Wharf, London, on June 9th 1684 in the reign of Charles 11. A Coat of Arms granted to nameholders has the blazon of a black shield, on a silver chevron, between ten silver martlets, five ogresses, the Crest being a lion's leg. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alsi Berd, which was dated 1086, in "Inquests of Ely", Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1086. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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