This is a famous English surname of 11th century Norman-French origins. William, the Conqueror, the former Duke of Normandy, was known as William, the Bastard, and the original name holders may well have been closely associated with him. Initially and for several centuries "bastard" was not considered a term of abuse. In fact it marked recognition of the status of a natural off-spring, within a noble family. The word derives from the French word "basart" of which the meaning is obscure. It is probable that it is a development of "bastum" meaning a pack(horse) saddle, the inference being that the person was conceived other than on the marriage bed! In the early days of surnames, Bastard was prominently and honourably born by nameholders throughout the country. The change of use of the word has subsequently caused many to change their name. Nethertheless the surname has been carried by the Bastard family of Kitley House, Devon, for at least seven centuries, the first recordings of the surname coming from that county. Early examples of the name recordings include Roger Bastard of Northampton, in the year 1293, and Thomas Basterd, a student in the register of Oxford University entrants, in 1539. The first known recording of the surname anywhere in the world may well be that of Robert Bastard of Devon, in the Domesday Book of the year 1086. This was during the reign of King William 1st, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087.
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