This unusual and interesting surname is of medieval English origin, and derives from the Middle English and Anglo-French "costard", a large apple. The ultimate origin of the word lies in the Old French "coste" (Modern French "cote", rib), with the suffix "ard", indicating a person or thing characterized by a certain quality. The apple bearing the name was so called from being prominently ribbed, and the same word was later applied derisively to the head. The surname Custard was therefore originally given either as a metonymic occupational name to a grower or seller of this popular apple variety, or as a nickname to someone who was "round-headed". A quotation from Shakespeare's "King Lear" reads; "I'd try whither your Costard or my Ballow (baton, stick) be the harder". Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Nicknames, from which a sizeable group of early European surnames arose, were given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities and mental or moral characteristics. Early examples of the surname include: Richard Costard (Cambridgeshire, 1273) and Thomas Costard (Yorkshire, 1379). In the modern idiom the name is spelt: Custard, Costard, Costerd, Cestard, Castard and Custed. On November 7th 1585 Thomas Custard, an infant, was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, London. Custards, a locality in the New Forest rural district of Hampshire, was probably named from one who bore this surname. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginal Costard, which was dated 1272, in the "Hundred Rolls of Gloucestershire, during the reign of Edward 1, known as" The Hammer of The Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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