This interesting name is of Norman French origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may derive from the Norman personal name "Bernier", which was adopted from the Old Germanic given name "Berner", composed of the elements "ber, bern", bear, and "hari, heri", army. Secondly, the modern surname may derive from an occupational name for a keeper of hounds, from the Old Norman French term "bernier, berner", from "bren, bran", bran, on which the dogs were fed. The first recording of the surname (below) is from this source. Both the personal name and the occupational surname were introduced into England after the Norman Conquest 1066, giving the earliest European recordings in that country. In France, one Marguerite Bernier was christened in Angers, Maine-et-Loire, in May 1589, and the marriage of Pierre Bernier and Francoise Visaine was recorded on June 16th 1671 at St. Jean-de-Losne, Cote d'Or. An early recording of the surname in Canada is that of the marriage of Charles Bernier and Mary Louisa Godet at L'Assomption, Essex, Ontario, on November 19th 1764. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Bernier, which was dated 1190, Documents relating to the Danelaw, Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Richard 1 of England, "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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