This name, with variant spellings Byrd, Birds,Byrde and Bride, derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "bridde" (Medieval English "brid" or "bird") meaning a bird, and was originally given as a nickname to one thought to bear a fancied resemblance to a bird i.e. bright eyed, active etc., or perhaps to one with a beautiful singing voice. The surname was first recorded towards the end of the 12th Century, (see below). Ralph le Brid(d), witness appears in the 1235 "Fine Court Rolls of Essex" and a Richard Bird in the 1260 "Assize Court Rolls of Cambridgeshire". The variant spelling Bride, most closely resembling the original Old English "bridde", was first recorded as a surname in 1332 - John Bride, (The Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland). Later in the Century, a Johannes Bridde was recorded in the "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", (1379). Occasionally Bird (and its variants) may have been given as a metonymic occupational name to a bird catcher, and as such was a shortened form of the name Birdclever, recorded in the 1427 "Calverley Charters of Yorkshire". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Earnald Brid, which was dated 1193 - "The Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "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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