Mary Ann Beard
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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