This famous name recorded in the spellings of Bernard, Barnard, Bernhard, and short forms Ber, Berr, and Berres, is of Old Germanic origins, although recorded in most European countries. It derives from the male personal name "Bernhard", which is composed of the elements "ber or bern", meaning bear, plus "hard", meaning brave, hardy, or strong. The Anglo-Saxon people who invaded England also used the name in the pre 7th Century form of "Beornheard", the surname being first recorded in England. The given name Bernard or Bernhard was very popular in medieval Europe, due partly to the fame of St.Bernard of Clairvaux (circa 1010 - 1153), founder of the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux, and of St. Bernard of Menthon (923 - 1108) founder of Alpine hospices and patron saint of mountaineers. An early recording of the name in Germany is that of Donat Behr, in the charters of the city of Meisen in 1484, Susanna Berr christened at Ronneburg, Sachsen, on February 2nd 1656, and in Poland, Dorota Wilhelmina Ber, who married Chrystyan Hensler in Warsaw on November 16th 1824. As Bernard, the surname is early into North America, when Frenchman Francoise Bernard married Marin Janot in Montreal on August 30th 1655. The coat of arms has the distinctive blazon of a blue field charged with four crosses, two and two, the crest being a silver bear. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Bernard, which was dated 1130, in the Lincolnshire county pipe rolls of England, 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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