This unusual surname is English Medieval and apparently first recorded in Yorkshire (see below). It is in fact as it sounds, occupational, and describes a 'hardware' merchant or retailer. It seems that these early shopkeepers were probably more like the later 'blacksmith', that is to say not just a stockist of ironwares, but a maker of such items as handles, bolts, and hinges, as well. Be that as it may the name is first shown in the famous Register of the Guild of the Corpus Christi in the City of York, one of the few medieval guild rolls to have survived through the intervening centuries. Early examples of the surname recording include Robert Hardware in the 'Archaeologia Cantiana' of Kent in 1551 in the reign of the boy king, Edward the sixth, and Samuel Hardman of Lancashire in the Rolls of the burgess members of the Guilds Merchants of the borough of Preston in 1682. The Coat of Arms of Hardware was granted to the same Lancashire family in the same period having the blazon of a black field, a silver chevron between three hands erected couped at the wrist of the second, and the crest of an arm rising out of a ducal coronet, holding an oak branch. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert Hardware, which was dated 1473, in the rolls of the Guild of Corpus Christi, York, during the reign of King Edward 1V, of England, reigned 1461 - 1483. 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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