Recorded in various spellings including Tarte, Tartier, Tartiere, Tarterat, Tort, Tortel, (France) and Tart, Tarte, Tartt, Tirte, and Tort (England), this is a surname of French pre medieval occupational origins. The derivation is from the pre 10th century word 'tarte' meaning a baker, one who specialised in pastries and tarts, and equivalent to the modern patiserrie. The word was introduced into England after the Norman Invasion of 1066, a suggested date of the 14th century being given in various records. This seems to be too late as occupational surnames were well established by time, although not necessarily the supporting church registers and charters. In France itself demographic records are at best erratic and often non existent, as sadly, many of the early medieval registers were destroyed during the 1792 Revolution when the church was itself outlawed. The word and hence possibly the surname in French has no possibly secondary meaning. In English the word can mean a pastry, a sour taste, or a promiscuous woman. However according to the various dictionaries the word 'tart' as applied to a woman is of 19th century origins, and apparently a slang or short form of the word 'sweetheart', although if that is the case, it may seem strange that there should be such a contradictory meaning. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic church registers include John Tart, a witness at St Johns church, Hackney, on December 18th 1570, Ellen Tarte who married John Malleyson, on October 20th 1579, at the church of St Pancras, Soper Lane, London, and Simon Tartier of Rumigny, Ardennes, France, a witness there on March 31st 1688.
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