This interesting surname is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066, and is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress and occupation. The derivation is from the Old French "vaillant", sturdy, brave (the present participle of "vaillir", to be strong, healthy) and was a nickname given to a stalwart or courageous person. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below), and can also be found as Valiant. Gilbert le Valiand is noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Dorset (1207), and Gilbert Valiant is listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of Somerset (1212). Recordings of the surname from the London Church Registers include: the christening of William, son of Francis and CAtharine Vaillant, on April 8th 1706 at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster; and the marriage of Paul Vaillant and Frances Moset on September 29th 1714 at Allhallows, London Wall. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is a blue shield charged with a gold shark and a gold chief. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo le Vaillant, which was dated 1185, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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