Recorded in the spellings of Wellard, Willard, and Wyllard, this ancient surname represents a rare survival of an Olde English personal name. This was the pre 7th century "Wilheard", composed of the elements "wil", meaning desire, and "hard", brave and strong. The given name is recorded in the county of Essex in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Wielardus", while other early Latinized examples include: Willardus de Wridlint of Suffolk in 1121, Hwylardus de Wytherendenn of Kent in 1180, and Wilardus uinitor of Yorkshire in 1192. The following recordings taken from authentic registers and charters of the medieval period illustrate the development of the surname: Nicholas Wythelard, in the Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls of 1279; Nicholas Wylard, in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex; William Willarde, listed in the Register of the University of Oxford for 1602, and Robert Wellard, a witness at the church of St James Clerkenwell, London, on January 24th 1639. John Willard was a very early emigrant to the British colonies of New England. He left London on the ship "William and John" in September 1635, bound for "St. Christophers in the Barbadoes". The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of William Wilard. This was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls" of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spellig.
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