This surname was a baptismal name 'the son of Gerard'. The name was derived from the Old German Gerhard - meaning spear-brave. The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention Gerardus (without surname) listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Hugo Gerard was recorded in the year 1199 in Northumberland. William Gerart, was documented in 1281 in the County of Suffolk. Johannes Gerard of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Garard of Oxford, registered at Oxford University in 1511. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The acquisition of surnames in Europe has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure. On the whole, the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working classes and the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in rural areas. These facts suggest that the origin of surnames is associated with the emergence of bureaucracies. As long as land tenure, military service, and fealty were matters of direct relationship between a lord and his vassals, the need did not arise for fixed distinguishing epithets to mark out one carl from another. But as societies became more complex, and as such matters as the management of tenure and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to have a more complex system of nomenclature to distinguish one individual from another. Later instances of the name include Garit Pender, who was buried at Cheadle Church, Cheshire in the year 1678, and Garrat Cocke (gentleman) was buried at Newcastle-on-Tyne in the year 1637.
The associated arms are recorded Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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