This interesting surname, of Norman origin, derives from the Old French "vin" meaning wine with the suffix "ard" or "art" indicating a person who does something, especially to excess, or is characterized by a certain quality. It would have originated as a nickname for a wine connoisseur or one who was particularly fond of wine. This 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, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress and occupation. The surname first appears in the mid 17th Century (see below). Recordings of the surname from Omont Church Registers, Ardennes, France, include; Louys, son of Pierre and Elisabeth Venart, who was christened on July 19th 1660; Pierre Venart who married Elizabeth Ludet on December 20th 1666, and Berthe, daughter of Jean and Marguerite Venart, who was christened on September 23rd 1676. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Catherine Venard, which was dated February 25th 1642, marriage to Nicholas Houillan, at Benney, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, during the reign of King Louis X111 of France, 1610 - 1643. 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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