Recorded as Mallard, Maillard, and diminutivies Mallet, Mailet, Maylett, Maylott (English), Maillet, Maillot, Mailhot, Malard, and Maillard (France), this very interesting surname has several possible origins. These include occupations such as a maker of hammer and mallets from the French word 'maillet', or an occupational nickname for a hunter of wild geese, or a nickname for a person who it was considered in some way to resemble a mallard, and therefore perhaps one who wore bright colours or was continually on the move, or as a surname from an Old German personal name of the pre 7th century Magihard, meaning hard force. This was certainly a name popular amongst the early inhabitants of Normandy, who were from the same background as the Vikings, except that they marched across Europe, rather than sailed. It has been estimated that at least fifteen percent of all European surnames originate from nicknames, and without being present seven hundred or more years ago when the name was given out, it is difficult to give a precise explanation. It can be said that this name is clearly complimentary, many were not, otherwise it would not have survived. The early recordings taken from such diverse registers and charters as the student lists at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the surviving church registers of France and those of the diocese of Greater London include: John Malard, of Herefordshire, in the Oxford register of 1580, Jacques Maillard at Notre Dame de L'Esvieres, Angers, in Maine-et-Loire, on October 1st 1611, Marye Mallard who married Ralph Beech at St James church, Clerkenwell, on July 15th 1638, Jacob Maillet at the French Huguento church, Threadneedle Street, on January 16th 1681, and Richard Maylott, at St Bartholomew the Great, on June 20th 1875.
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