Meaning & History
Nickname for a bearded man (Middle English, Old English beard). To be clean-shaven was the norm in non-Jewish communities in northwestern Europe from the 12th to the 16th century, the crucial period for surname formation. There is a place name and other evidence to show that this word was used as a byname in the Old English period, when beards were the norm; in this period the byname would have referred to a large or noticeable beard. As an American surname, this name has absorbed cognates and equivalents in other languages, in particular German Bart.