- This interesting surname of early medieval English origin, found chiefly in the West country, is an occupational name for a tender of animals, usually a cowherd or shepherd. It is derived from the Middle English "he(a)rde" which is a development of the Old English pre 7th Century "hi(e)rde" meaning herd or flock. Variants of the surname include Herdman, Herd (Scotland), Herdman (Northumberland), Hardman, Hird (Yorkshire), Hurd (Midlands), and Hurdman (West Midlands). The development of the surname include Reginald le Herd (1243, Assize Rolls of Somerset) and Richard le Hurde (1296, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex). One Ellen Heard married Steven Thomlyson on April 22nd 1560 at St. Leonard's, Eastcheap, London. An interesting namebearer was Sir Isaac Heard (1730 - 1822) who was appointed Garter king-of-arms and knighted in 1794. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Hord, which was dated 1221, Assize Rolls of Shropshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, "The Frenchman", 1261 - 1272. 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.