This surname of LEBER (originating in County Sussex) was derived from the Old English word LEPARD, and rendered in Latin documents as LEOPARDUS, composed of the elements LEO (lion) and PARDUS (panther), perhaps a nickname for a stealthy but violent man, or a house name for someone who lived in a house distinguished by the sign of a leopard. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. The earliest of the name on record appears to be William Lephard, who was documented in 1296, County Sussex, and John Lyppard was recorded in 1327 in County Essex. Edward Leppard of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans.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. Later instances of the name include Thomas Rogers and Elizabeth Leopard who were married at St. Antholin, London in the year 1738, and Richard Leopard and Sarah Wheeler were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1790. James Evans wed Ann Lippard at the same church in 1794.
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