The surname of GARNIER was derived from the Old French 'gernier'. It was originally an occupational name, the gerner, the keeper of the granary. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state.
Early records of the name mention Garnerius de Nugent who was documented in the year 1170 in County Cheshire. Johannes Garner of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. A later instance of the name mentions Christopher Garner of Lancashire, who was listed in the Wills at Richmond in 1584. A notable member of the name was Robert Garnier (1534-90) the French poet and playwright, borne in Maine. His 'Oeuvres Completes' include eight masterly tragedies, of which perhaps the best are 'Antigone' (1580) and 'Les Juives' (1583). Antoine Garnier (1869-1948) was the French architect, born in Lyon. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. As architect to Lyon, he made a major contribution to the forming of the 20th century architectural and urban planning. His early designs were published in 1920. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. The arms are registered at Weekham, County Hants.)
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