This surname, long associated with Yorkshire, is of early medieval English origin, and is an occupational name for a tender of oxen and gelded horses. The derivation is from the Middle English "gelde" (ultimately from the Old Norse "gelda", barren, sterile), with "herd" (Olde English pre 7th Century "hierde"), herdsman, tender. A quotation from Whitaker's "History and Antiquities of Craven" (Yorkshire), dated 1317, reads, "Item. pro geldherds, pro triphers", to which the editor adds, "Geldherds are elsewhere called pastores sterilium animalium". Job-descriptive surnames, such as this, originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. One Petrus Geldhird and a Ricardus Geldhyrd were noted in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, and in 1511, John Geldert was entered in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York. In the modern idiom the name is variously spelt: Geldard, Geldart, Gelderd, Geldert and Gelder. One George Geldart, of Ulverston, appears in the Lancashire Wills Records held at Richmond, in 1661, and James William Geldart (1785 - 1876), professor of Civil Law at Cambridge, 1814 - 1847, edited Halifax's "Analysis of Civil Law" (1836). A Coat of Arms granted to the Geldart family is a green shield with a lion rampant reguardant, and ducally crowned gold, between three arrows of the last. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William le Geldehyrde, which was dated 1284, in the "Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield", Yorkshire, during the reign of King 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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