This interesting and unusual name, with variant spelling Crisard, originated either as a French nickname for one with grey hair, or as a topographical name for someone resident by a prominent popular tree. The derivation in the first instance is from the Old French "gris" meaning "grey", plus the French suffix "ard" used either in a diminutive or pejorative sense. In the second instance, the derivation is from the Old French "grisard", a grey or white popular tree. A Coat of Arms granted to the Grispard family of Liege, a French speaking province of East Belgium, is recorded heraldically in Rietstap's Armorial General and depicts a black cross on an ermine shield. The centre of the cross is charged with a gold mullet representing the rowel of a knight's spur. The Arms of the Gris family of Anjou (North East France) is identical but the mullet is absent. On June 13th 1678, John Grizart and Margaret Spowres were married in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Grisare of Lieqe, Belgium, which was dated circa 1680, in Riefstap's "Armorial General", during the reign of King Leopold 1, known as "The Holy Roman Emperor", 1658 - 1705. 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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