This very and interesting surname is of Northern Olde English pre 9th century origins. It was originally an occupational descriptive word for a breeder or keeper of warhorses, and perhaps not surprisingly the surname is recorded in a number of alternative spellings. The derivation is from 'stod', meaning a studfarm, plus as a suffix a shortened form of 'hierde', the herdsman. The popularity of horsemanship in Britain dates back to pre-Roman times, but surprisingly the later Vikings, who were as renowned (or feared) as horsemen as much as sea warriors, seem to have been most responsible for the endless pre-occupation of the British with horses. Certainly the later 12th century surname development has produced a wide range of spellings, proof in itself of the status of the occupation. These alternative spellings include Stodart, Stoddard, Stoddart, Stodhart, Studart, Studdard, Studdeard, Stiddard, and Studeart. The early recordings have such examples as Geoffrey Stodhurd of Northumberland in 1219, Richard le Stodehard in Yorkshire in 1332, Thomas Stoderd also of Yorkshire in 1481. Amongst the examples of the church recordings are the marriages of George Stoddard and Anne Sexton on November 14th 1559 at the famous St. Dunstan's-in-the-East, Stepney, and of Edward Stoddart and Agnes Smith on October 7th 1577 at Tottenham, London. The earliest coat of arms associated with the name dates back to the reign of King Henry V1 (1422 - 1461) and has the blazon of a black field, charged with a silver garb, inside a bordure engrailed, also silver. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Vlfus Stodhyrda, which was dated 1195, The Pipe Rolls of Cumberland, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. 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.