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. An English herbalist and barber-surgeon, born in Nantwich, by the name of John Gerard was listed from 1545-1612. His London garden became famous for its rare collection of plants. 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. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification.
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