This rare and interesting surname is of Norman French origin, and has developed from either a nickname or a personal name introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. The name derives from "Burnhard", a compound of the Old French "brun", brown, and "hard", hardly, brave, strong, with a typical transposition of "brun" to "burn", found also in such names as "Burnet(t)" and "Burnel(l)". The personal name was still found recorded in its Latinized form in the 1211 Norfolk Curia Rolls, although the surname (also Latinized) is found much earlier, as below. The surname development includes Odo Burnard (1192, Essex), and Richard Burnhard (1279, Bedfordshire). The marriage of Hugh Burnard and Alex Garrett was recorded at St. Mary Somerset, in London, on June 13th 1566, and one Michael Burnard was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, also in London, on April 27th 1589. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rogerus Burnadus, which was dated 1130, The Bedfordshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 1, "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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