This interesting surname is of early medieval French origins. It is occupational and is derived from the word "gardin", meaning 'Little clearing', and itself a diminutive of the Germanic word gard, an enclosure cleared for agriculture. Probably introduced into England after the Norman Invasion of 1066, the function of the gardinier or jardiniere of medieval times was not a gardener as we would think of the term today, but was specific to the growing of medicinal herbs, fruit and vegetables, what in modern parlance, would be more of a market gardener. Furthermore the gardiner was in early times associated with the monasteries where it was an important secular post. In the early days the monsteries were not only religious houses, but were major seats of practical learning, where great advances were achieved in husbandy and what we today would call intensive farming. Not surprisingly this is one of the earliest surnames to be recorded anywhere in the world with William le Gardiner being recorded in the pipe rolls of the county of Rutland in 1199, during the reign of King John (1199 - 1216). Amongst later interesting recordings we have that of Richard Gardiner. He was listed as a seaman aboard the the ship 'Mayflower' which in 1620 carried the famous Pilgrim Fathers on their epic journey to the New World. Peter Gardner who followed some fifteen years later, settled in the colony of Virgina in 1635. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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