This surname of WILLERS was derived from the Old Germanic personal name Willard composed of the elements 'wil' meaning desire, and 'hard' meaning one who was brave and strong. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that is became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. Early records of the name mention William le Willer who was documented in 1327 in County Sussex, and John le Wylyare who was recorded in 1327 in Hampshire. William le Wyliere, ibid. Robert le Wyliar appears in County Sussex in the year 1332. Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (Registered at Eastbourne, County Sussex, a family originally Villiard of Caen in Normandy, seated in County Sussex during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). (Willard).
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