The surname of GILLARD was a nickname 'the gaillard' the happy and joyous, the bold. There are many variants of this name which include Gallard, Gaylard and Gaylord. This was the name of a 7th century Provencal hermit, whose cult popularized the name in a variety of more or less mutilated forms: Gidi and Gidy in Southern France, Gilli in the area of the Alpes-Maritimes and Gille elsewhere. This last form was brought over to England by the Normans, but by the 12th century it was confused with the Germanic name Gisel, a shortened form of Gilbert. Early records of the name mention John Gayllard, 1273, County Cambridge and Thomas Gillard appears in County Yorkshire in the year 1350. Margary Gaylard of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. A later instance of the name mentions Bernard Galad and Joane March who were married in Canterbury in the year 1667. The name was taken by settlers to Ireland where it is rendered in the Gaelic O'Glasain or O'Gliasain. The ancient origins of the forebears of this sept were in the county of Cork, but the sept established itself in Owney and Arra barony, County Tipperary. At the end of the last century about one half of all the families in Ireland still resided in County Tipperary, and the greater part of the rest lived in other counties of the counties of Munster. The families are still numerous in the region of Nenagh, near their early homeland. The main body of the sept were and mainly still are located in Lower Ormand. Mainly families of the name still retain the old spelling with the 'O' prefix.
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