This Scottish surname of WHISKERD was originally derived from the Old French word GUISCHARD, meaning prudent and sagacious. The name has numerous variant spellings which include VISART, VISCHART, WISEHEART, WISHEART, WISSART, WSCHARTT, WYISHART, WYSSART, VISCHARGE and WHYSSARD to name but a few. The name was brought early to Scotland by settlers and William WISCHARD witnessed a grant of the mill to the Abbey of Cambuskenneth, circa. 1200. Adam WISCARD had a charter of land in 1279, and Andrew WYCCHARD of Scotland was a prisoner of war in Hereford Castle in 1305. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. Later instances of the name include Johnnett WISCHART who was burnt for witchcraft in 1596, and James WISEHARTT was the burgess of Montrose in 1649. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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