The French surname of GIRARDIN was a baptismal name 'the son of Gerard'. The name was originally derived from the Old German Gerhard - meaning spear-brave. The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GARRAT, GARRED, GERRETT, GARROULD, GERARD, GIRARDI, GIERTH and GERHOLD, to name but a few. 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. 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. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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