Recorded as Garnett, Garnet, Gernett, Gurnett and even Warnett, this is an English surname, but of pre 8th century Old French origins. It has two possible origins. The first and most likely is from the medieval French diminutive surname "Guarinot", which translates literally as "Little war" from the ancient word and personal name Guarin or Warin. An unusual subject for a name to modern eyes, but not so in the Dark Ages of history. The second is occupational and again French from the word "ganetier" meaning a make of iron hinges specifically those which are T shaped and known as garnets. It is quite impossible to say which origin a particular name descends from, as the surviving records are rarely accurate before the 17th century, and often lack precision even before 1837 when national registration was introduced in the United Kingdom, and in 1865 in Ireland. What is known is that this is one of the first surnames ever recorded anywhere with Richard Gernet appearing in the famous Domesday Book for the county of Essex in 1086. It is doubtful if this was the recording of a hereditary surname, but those of Benedict Gernet in the pipe rolls of Nottingam in 1196, John Garynet of Sussex in 1327, and John Garnett of Yorkshire, in the poll tax rolls of that county in 1379, were certainly hereditary. Surnames have continued to develop over the centuries, often leading to variants far removed from the original forms.
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