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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

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.


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.


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.


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


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 United States in the 17th Century

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

Gard Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Robert Gard, who landed in Virginia in 1700

Gard Settlers in 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

Gard Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Bennett Gard, English convict from Wiltshire, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • William Gard arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cleveland" in 1839
  • Elizabeth Gard arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cleveland" in 1839
  • Thomas Gard arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847
  • Richard Gard, aged 18, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Lord Raglan"

Gard Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Frederic Gard, aged 24, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ocean Mail" in 1875
  • William George Gard, aged 25, a plasterer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rodney" in 1875
  • Sarah A. Gard, aged 21, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rodney" in 1875


  • 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
  • Mr. Johannes Gard (1869-2014), Norwegian Third Class Passenger from Stavanger, Norway who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland on May 29th 1914



  1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  2. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  10. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  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 8 January 2015 at 12:49.

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