Recorded as Bard, Barde, Beard, and the diminutives Barday, Bardey, and Bardy, this is an English medieval surname. It is one of the oldest in the world appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086 in its Norman form of "Hugo a la Barde", in Hampshire. It is or rather was nickname for a wearer of a beard, derived from the pre 7th Century word "beard", and it appears in early records in a prepositional form, such as Thomas Onlabarde or "Thomas with the beard", in Somerset in theyear 1280. 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, and after the 14th century it is no longer possible to tell a precise origin. Examples of early recordings from the city of London include John Barde, a witness at the church of St Botolphs without Aldgate, on March 16th 1594, Ann Bard, who married Matthew Rider at St Peters church, Pauls Wharf, on June 9th 1684 and Richard Bardey at St James Clerkenwell, on October 26th 1686. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alsi Berd. This was dated 1086, in the register known as the "Inquests of Ely", Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King William 1st, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1086. 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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