Recorded as Heard, Herd, Hird, Hord, Hurd, Herdman (English and Scottish), and as Hirt, Hirth, Hirthe, Hirtz, Hirtzman (German) and others, this is an early medieval surname. It was occupational for a tender of animals, and usually known as a cowherd or shepherd. It is derived from the Old English and Anglo-Saxon pre 7th Century "hierde" meaning a herd or flock. Occupational surnames only became hereditary when a son followed his father into the same line of business or skill. If he didnt, and many chose theire own way in life, then he would often be called by both his fathers occupation and his own, creating much confusion!The development of the surname has included Reginald le Herd in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1243, and in Germany Albertus der Hirte, who appears in the charters of the town of Eblingen in 1279. In the early surviving church registers of the city of London we have the Elizabethan recording of Ellen Heard who married Steven Thomlyson on April 22nd 1560 at St. Leonard's Eastcheap. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the workld is shown to be that of Thomas Hord. This was dated 1221, in the Assize Rolls of Shropshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1261 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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