This interesting English medieval surname derives from a popular Germanic personal name. First recorded as a baptismal name in the spelling of "Aethelweard", it is composed of the elements "adal" meaning noble, and "ward", a guard. The given names "Aegelward" and "Ailuuard" are found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century, and other early recordings include: Godric filius (son of) Aeilwardi, noted in the 1229 Close Rolls of Gloucestershire, and Nicholas Eylward, a witness in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset, dated 1243. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including: Aylward, Ailward, Allward, Aluard, Elward, Eylward and Elard. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Theodore Aylward (1730 - 1801), who was professor of music of Gresham College in 1771, and the organist at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in 1788. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Ailward, which was dated 1201, in the "Pipe Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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