Yardy One-Name Study


This page explains the likely origins of the surname Yardy and looks at the frequency distribution of its precursors and variants.

Probable Origin

The name Yardy is sufficienty rare* as not to appear in most of the well-known surname dictionaries. The best explanation from a few sources (most notably The Internet Surname Database) is that it is a variant of Yard, an explanation of which does appear in many sources.

Early instances of the surname Yard are (according to A Dictionary of English Surnames by Reaney and Wilson, 1991, and the Internet Surname Database):

The 'yard' comes from Old English gerd or gyrd, and refers to a measure of land area. The name therefore initially probably referred to someone who held this amount of 'yardage', a quarter of a 'hide', or around 30 acres. Since a hide is a measure of yield, the actual land area varies slightly over place and time. Such an area was more than sufficient to feed a family of four so related to a person of reasonable wealth (a yeoman).


There are other minor variations in spelling but these are generally the result of a recorder (e.g. census enumerator) mishearing a name, or a mistranscription. These are also known as 'deviants'. A true 'variant' is where a name has been used over time on a variety of records and shows obvious links to its predecessor, such as being used interchangeably, or evolving over time from one to the other.


Various sources give slighty different figures for occurrence of Yardy. We have amalgated data from Worldnames Public Profiler, Surnames from the UK Office of National Statistics at http://www.taliesin-arlein.net/names/search.php (2002), US Census Data (2000).

Country Number Frequency
(per million)
England 308 5.7 16,069
United States 100-125 0.4 150,000
Canada 31 0.9
Australia ~50 2.3

The following table shows the number of people with surnames of the main variants in both England (2002) and the USA (2000):

Variant Great Britain United States
Yardy 308 100
Yard 585 1,720
Yarde 466 592

Note that the variants Yarday, Yardey and Yeardye have virtually died out in modern times.

Using the profiler, we can also find the relative distribution of Yardy and Yard(e) around the world:

Yardy Yard(e)
Region Frequency Region Frequency
East Anglia 70.8 South West England 84.9
Midlands 14.0 Eastern Canada 71.3
Yorkshire 5.9 Eastern USA 53.5
North England 3.4 Montana 13.4

Outside of England there are clusters of Yardys in the range 3-5 per million in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Washington (state) and Arizona. Both Yard and Yarde are strongest in South West England (Somerset, Bristol, Taunton etc.) but further afield the Yards are most prominent in Canada while the Yardes are on the east coast of the USA (New York New Jersey, Connecticut) with a sizeable cluster in Montana.

The distribution in 1881 is more tightly clustered, with the main Yard cluster in Somerset and the South West, which suggests direct descendants of Thomas de La Yurda (1225) and/or Robert (1309) and Hugh(1327) atte Yearde. In contrast the Yardys are concentrated, as now, in the Fens area of East Anglia. The most tenuous connection we can find between the Yard(e)s and Yardys is that there are 17th century references to Yeardyes in Huntingtonshire, only 10 miles from some of the main cluster of Yardys.

* In fact it comes into the "very rare" category based on a classification system published by Ronald Smallshaw and Eric Banwell in The Guild of One-Name Studies Journal. You take the number of births in two years separated by 100 years and average them. Taking 1870 and 1970 the average for Yardy is 7 putting it in the lowest category (<10). Rare is 10-100, whilst common is over 1,250.

This page last updated 22nd February 2013