This famous personal and later surname, is of pre 5th century German origins. Recorded in over one hundred different spellings ranging from Barnard, Benard, and Bernat, to Bernth, Bernucci, and Bieratowicz, it derives from the male personal name "Bernhard or Beornheard", comprising the elements "bern", meaning the bear, plus "hard", meaning brave, strong or hardy. Perhaps not surprisingly given the meaning of "Hardy bear" the name was always popular. The surname was first recorded in England in the 12th century.
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