This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is an example of that large group of English and Continental surnames that have gradually developed from the habitual use of nicknames or bynames. In this instance, the name 'Bird' and its variant forms 'Burd' and 'Byrd', derives from the Middle English 'bird, brid', nesting, young bird, a development of the Old English pre 7th Century 'bridd'. The nickname would have been given to a young person, perhaps as a term of affection.In some cases, the name may derive from a metonymic occupational surname for a bird catcher, and may possibly also be derived from the Middle English word 'burde', maiden, girl, applied as a mocking nickname. One William Burde is recorded in the Sussex Hundred Rolls of 1275. At the age of eighteen, John Burd was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London on the 'Bonaventure' in January 1634, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ernald Brid, which was dated 1193, in the Yorkshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as '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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