Recorded in various spellings including Eckart, Eckert, Eckard, Eckhard, Eckett, and possibly others, this is an ancient English surname. It is believed to originate from a pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon name 'Erhard, from 'era' meaning honourable, and 'hard,' brave or hardy. As such it is one of the now rare early English surnames which survived the twin thrusts of firstly the Norman-French conquest of 1066, and later the input of Christian names. These surprisingly perhaps, followed the largely unsuccessful but nevertheless popular Christian Crusades intended to free the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 12th century. It became the tradition for knights and pilgrims on their return, to name any subsequent children with biblical names. However in a few cases the old names survived in remote areas. This is a surname which in its early days was much associated with East Anglia and particularly the county of Norfolk, a region which until the draining of the fens between the 13th and 17th century, was cut off from the rest of England. Early recordings include Adam Ecard in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk in 1273, William Echard, the rector of Cley in Norfolk in 1515, and Thomas Eckart, who was recorded at St Dionis Backchurch, in the city of Lonon, in 1544.
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