This is an ancient surname of Norman-French 11th Century origins, and when pronounced with the hard "G" is derived from Guillaume (the French William), plus the suffix "ard", a form of descriptive diminutive translating as "son of Gullaume". When pronounced with a "J" sound, the derivation is from "Gille", the French form of the Old German "Gilo", itself derived from the Greek for "kid". The early etymologist Canon C.W. Bardsley suggested that Gillard has the same root origins as "Gaylord", a nickname for a fun-loving person, and given the transposition of spelling which often occurs, this may be correct in some instances. Certainly, in "The Cooks Tale" by Chaucer occurs "Gaillard, he was, as Goldfinch in the Shawe", circa 1340 - 1400. The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and another early recording is that of William Gallard, in the Pipe Rolls of Oxford, in 1273. Recordings from early church registers include the christening of Robert Kyllyard on June 6th 1616, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and the marriage of Phillip Gillard and Mercy Scott on January 7th 1699, at St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney, in the reign of William of Orange (1689 - 1702). The Coat of Arms originally granted in London, has the blazon of a blue field, charged with a silver bend between three golden roses, stalked in green. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Gayllard, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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