This is an interesting surname of Norman origin from a medieval personal name composed of the elements "levon", lion, with "hardu", brave, thus lion-bold. It is interesting to note the use of an animal not native to Northern Europe in this name. The first recorded bearer of this given name was a 6th Century saint who was consistently popular in France and England well into the Middle Ages, claiming 150 Church dedications to his credit. He is the patron saint of those held in captivity. In the modern idiom, the variants include Leonards, Leonarde, Len(n)ard and the Irish Lennon, Lunny and Linnane. One Agnes Leonarde married George Gifford on the 21st of Arpil 1572 at St. Mary Woolnoth, London and one Catherine Leonarde was christened on August 16th 1579 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephanus Leonardus, which was dated 1221, in the "Assize Court Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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