Recorded in many spelling forms including Leonard, Lennard, Learned (England), Leonhard, Leonhardt (Germany), de Leon, Leon, Leonisa, Leonor (Spain), Leo, Leon, Leoni, Leonida, Leonardi, Leonardo, Lonardi, Lunardi (Italy), Lenart (Czech) and many, many more, this is a surname of Germanic or occasionally Irish origins. It derives from either the pre 7th century German personal name "Leonhard", composed of the elements "levon" meaning a lion, and "hardu", brave or hardy. 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 over one hundred church dedications to his credit. He was and is, the patron saint of those held in captivity. In Ireland the surname may be from the same source, or as a form of the Gaelic O'Leannain. This is composed of the elements O' meaning "descendant of", and "Leannan", a byname meaning "lover". The surname is first recorded in England and Agnes Leonard appears in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire, dated 1272, whilst in Germany Johannes Leonardi of Ulm appears in the charters of that city in 1479. Thomas Leonard was one of the earliest namebearers to settle in the colony of Virginia, New England in 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is that of Stephanus Leonardus. This was dated 1221, in the Assize Court Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of Engaland, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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