Recorded in many forms including Gercke, Gehricke, Geharke, Girk, Girke, the diminutives Garken, Gerken, Gercken, and Girkin, the patronymics Gerkens and Girkins, and the Bavarian Gerler, Gorler, Gerling, and Gorling, this ancient surname is of German and later French, pre 7th century origins. It derives from the word "geri" meaning a spear, to which was added various suffix such as "-in, -ing, or -en" being short forms of "kin" to indicate a close relationship, and sometimes the plural "s" a short form of the patronymic "son". This type of "name" was very typical of the period in history known as "The Dark Ages" roughly from the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century to the coming of Emperor Charlamagne in the 8th. It may originally have described a spearman or the son of a spearman. Later after the 11th century and the famous Crusades to the Holy Land, there was a revival in Christian belief, and biblical names replaced many of the early pagan names, but not this one. It is uncertain how many surname have "geri" as some part of the spellings, but it is known to exceed two hundred, with original examples found in almost every European country. These spellings include not only those shown above, but such forms as Garratt, Gerhard, Garred, Jarrelt, Gheraldi, Giraudot, Gilardengo and Gerrelts! Early examples of the surname recordings include: Henry Jerard in the county of Essex, England, in 1284, whilst in Germany, Burkhart Gerhart, a burgher of the town of Heilbronn, is so recorded in the year 1293, Magister Gerundus Gering in the charters of city of Konstanz in 1325, and Henlinus Gerekin of Worms in 1345. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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