This interesting and unusual surname has two possible origins. Firstly and most likely it may come from the Norman personal name "Tancard", composed of the Germanic elements "pank", thought and "hard", hardy, brave, strong which was introduced into England by the Normans. The personal name dates from 1175, when Tankardus Flandrensis is listed in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", the surname from this source is first recorded in the late 12th Century, (see below). A second possibility is that the surname is a metonymic occupational name for a maker of barrels and drinking vessels, from the Medieval English "tankard", tub, cup.It may also be a nickname for a hardened drinker ! (from the same source). The first recording of the surname from this source is found in 1298, when John le Tanckardmaker is listed in the "Calendar of Early Mayor's Court Rolls". William Tankard, was steward of Knaresborough forest in the reign of Henry 111 (1216-1272), and held lands in Yorkshire where the name is widespread and his family had been established for several generations. His great grandfather, Richard Tankard lived at Boroughbridge, in Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Tankard, which was dated 1190, Pipe Rolls of Oxford, during the reign of King Richard 1, "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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