This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and can be either a topographical or a metonymic occupational surname. If the former, the surname means someone who lived near or at an orchard, and if the latter one who was employed in an orchard, a fruit-grower. The derivation is the same in both cases, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ortgeard, orceard" a compound of "wort, wyrt" plant, with "geard" yard, enclosure, in Middle English 'orchard'. One Richard Orchard was master of one of the ships taking emigrants from England to the New World, the "Alice", which left London in July 1635, bound for Virginia.The marriage of Robert Orchard and Elizabeth Goodlad was recorded in 1683 at St. James's Church, Clerkenwell, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander de Orchyard which was dated 1225, witness in the "Somerset Assize Rolls", 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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