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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish

Where did the Irish Gard family come from? What is the Irish Gard family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gard family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gard family history?

When the Stongbow settlers arrived in Ireland, they quickly learned that the Irish had a pre-established system of hereditary surnames. The name Gard is an occupational surname, which was primarily from the Anglo-Norman culture. There were a few Irish occupational names, however, previous to the arrival of the Strongbownians, so this Anglo-Norman tradition was not too incongruous within the island. Occupational surnames were derived from a word describing the actual job done by the initial name bearer. The Strongbownians frequently prefixed these names with the French word le, meaning the, but this custom quickly died out in Ireland. The surname Gard came from a common occupational name for a valued military officer. The surname Gard is derived from the expression Unicus Est. According to tradition, during the bitter 13th century feuds between the two powerful Anglo-Norman families of the Fitzgeralds and the Butlers, a Commander who sought help to secure a position pointed to a particularly valued captain and said Unicus Est, which means Hei is the only one to undertake this service. The name Garde was also used as a synonym.

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Medieval scribes and church officials often spelled the name Gard as it sounded to them. As a result, the name Gard, over the ages, has attained many spelling variations including Uniacke, Uniake, Uniack, Uniak, Garde, Gard and others.

First found in County Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) the ancient Kingdom of Deis Muin (Desmond), located on the southwest coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times, soon after the Anglo Norman Conquest of Ireland by Strongbow in 1172 A.D. That this family name were Norman mercenaries seems reasonably clear. In the bitter 13th century feuds between the Fitzgeralds and the Butlers it is said that a commander, seeking help to secure a position, pointed to one of the captains and said, 'Unicus Est', meaning 'He is the only one to undertake this service'. Hence this expression not only became the family motto but it also became the basis and origin of the family name itself, Uniacke. Later some used Gard as a synonym.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gard research. Another 173 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 197 and 1976 are included under the topic Early Gard History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Gard Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil, which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops, landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit, starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish families left the country for British North America and the United States. The new immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name Gard:

Gard Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Margaret Gard, aged 24, landed in Virginia in 1635

Gard Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Robert Gard, who landed in Virginia in 1700

Gard Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Juan Gard, aged 57, arrived in New Orleans, La in 1829
  • Manuel G Gard, aged 8, landed in New Orleans, La in 1829
  • Peter Gard, who arrived in Indiana in 1840
  • Q J Gard, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Miss Gard, who arrived in America in 1856

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  • Major-General Robert Gibbins Gard (1899-1983), American Commanding General VII Corps (1957-1959)
  • Roger Martin du Gard (1881-1958), French novelist
  • Phil Gard (b. 1947), New Zealand rugby union player
  • Léon Gard (1901-1979), French painter and art critic
  • Michael "Mike" Gard (b. 1952), former Australian politician
  • Trevor Gard (b. 1957), former English first-class cricketer


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  1. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  5. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  8. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  9. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  10. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  11. ...

The Gard Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gard Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 9 April 2014 at 10:46.

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