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 Old English 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 from 'Barnet'. 'Barnard' is found most frequently in Sussex. A notable namebearer is Dr. thomas Barnado (1845 - 1905), the Irish philanthropist who founded the orphanages, which still bear his name. The family were of Spanish origin, who moved to Hamburg in the 18th Century to escape religious persecution. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Bernard, which was dated 1130, The Lincolnshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 1, '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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017