This interesting name is of Norman origin, introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066 in the French form "Bernart". The Normans adopted the name from the Germanic "Bernhard", composed of the elements "ber(n)", bear, with "hard", brave, hardy, strong, and the introduction of this form reinforced the existing Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Beornheard", which had the same meaning of "bear-brave". The name was very popular among the Normans and English during medieval times, due partly to the fame of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (circa 1090 - 1153), founder and abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux. In England the modern surname can be found as Bernard and Barnard, and the diminutive form Barnet. The form Barnard is found most frequently in Sussex. One William Barnard was an early settler in the New World Colonies; he is listed as a resident of Basse Choice in Virginia in 1623. No less than twenty one Coats of Arms have been granted to this illustrious family, one of the earliest being on a red shield, three gold lions rampant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Bernard, which was dated 1130, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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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