This unusual and interesting surname is of Old French pre 10th century origins. It derives from the word 'guerre' meaning 'war' and as such was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. The subsequent surname is one of a group that were gradually developed from the habitual use of a nickname. Nicknames were given for a variety of reasons including personal appearance, physical peculiarities, or mental or moral characteristics. Not surprisingly this gave rise to some very unusual surnames, many of which were obscene and crude, although the original nameholders do not seem to have regarded them as such! In the case of the surname Warr and Warre, the 'nickname' was given either to a soldier or perhaps to a belligerent person, or even the reverse, the sense of humour of the medieval period allows for either explanation. The name development includes John la Werre of Gloucester in 1187, Tomas la Warre of Somerset in 1196, and George Warre of Lincoln in 1468. Later recordings taken from authentic civil and church registers Willian Warr, aged nineteen, who left London bound for Virginia, USA, on November 20th 1635. Before he was allowed to leave he first had to swear allegiance to King Charles 1st. Amongst the register recordings for the period was that of John Warr, who married Jane Rainbow, at St. Mary's church, Marylebone, London, on August 20th 1685. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Herebertus la Guerre, which was dated 1179, in the pipe rolls of the county of Doreset, England, 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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