Recorded in many spelling forms including Bullard, Ballard, Belward, Bellyard, Billiard, Billyard, and Bellard, this is an early English surname. It is or rather was, a nickname, and as such one of a sizeable group of early surnames that were given with reference to a variety of physical and moral characteristics, although habits of dress and occupation were also common. In this case the derivation is from the Middle English word "balle", used in the transferred sense of a hairless patch on the skull, and therefore probably a reference to a monk or holy man. To this has been added the Anglo-Saxon suffix of "-ard", whose precise translation is uncertain, but probably means "son of". Early examples of the surname recordings include those of Alured Balard of Essex in 1273 and Geoffrey Bolhard of Warwick in 1275. Later recordings are those of Moyses Billiard, a witness at St Botolphs church, Bishopgate, city of London, on October 10th 1631, whilst on March 31st 1634, John Bilyard was christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney. On July 15th 1635, William Ballard, together with his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Hester and Jo, aged respectively one year and two years, embarked from London on the ship "James" bound for New England. They were among the earliest recorded settlers in the new colonies of America. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Ballard. This was dated 1196, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Northamptonshire", during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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