This interesting surname derives from the Olde German male personal name "Leonhard", composed of the elements "Levon" meaning lion plus "hardu" brave. 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 Ireland the surname may also be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O' Leannain" composed of the elements "o" meaning "descendant of" plus "Leannan" a byname meaning Lover. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 13th Century (see below). One, Agnes Leonard, appears in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire (1279). In the modern idiom, the variants include Len(n)ard, Leonarde, Learnard and the Irish Lennon, Lunny and Linnane. One, Thomas Leonard is recorded as having emigrated from the Port of London to Virginia, aboard the "Assurance" on July 24th 1635. A Coat of Arms granted to the Leonard family depicts a red fess charged with three silver fleurs-de-lis, on a gold shield. On the Crest there is a silver tigers' head coming out of a gold ducal coronet. 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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