The following story is abstracted from the book by Sabine Baring-Gould's "Family Names and Their Story," published 1910.In this book, Baring-Gould discusses the origin of Baird being from Bayard.For those of us who believe Beard is derived from Baird, it would also apply:
"A great change took place in English Christian names after the Conquest."He refers to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy.In 1066, Normandy was a duchy in today's France."Before that, names borne by men and women were of very ancient character, formed out of the Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian tongues.But after that event came in names of saints and such as were Norman."
"The romances of chivalry exercised a great influence on nomenclature, at first only on members of the Norman-French families, but mediately on the English.The fable of King Arthur and the Round Table was vastly popular and supplied us with several names.The fable of the Four Sons of Aymon was also very popular at the time.In this romance, Aymon was Count of Dordogne and Duke of Ardennes.He had four sons, Reynald of Montauban, Richard, Allard, and Guichard (Wishart).
"All of these names ... were taken up.Not only so, but also that of Bayard (Baird), the name of the horse that was ridden by the Four Sons of Aymon.
The story of the Four Sons of Aymon is now forgotten, although at one time most popular; and, indeed, it is a touching tale.The Four Sons of Aymon were at feud with Charlemagne, and all four rode on the back of their great horse Bayard.At last, through the intercession of their mother, the great King agreed to receive the Four Sons of Aymon into favor again, on condition that they surrender to him their horse Bayard.This was agreed to, and Reynald gave up the steed to Charlemagne, who had two millstones attached to Bayard's neck, and the horse was then precipitated into the water.Bayard managed to disengage himself from the load, and rose to the surface, saw his master Reynald, and swam to him and laid his head on his shoulder.When the King saw this, he demanded the horse again, and Reynald gave it up.Charles the Great now had a millstone attached to each foot of the horse and two to its neck, and again it was cast into the water.But once more, Bayard managed to free himself, and swam up to Reynald and looked at him piteously, as much as to say: 'Why have you done this to me, your true friend?'Reynald carressed the poor beast and trusted that the Emperor now would waive his determination to have it destroyed.But Charles once more insisted, and against the will of his brothers, who to save the faithful beast would have renewed their feud with the Emperor, he gave Bayard up for the third time, but as he parted with it, he said: 'Old friend, how hardly am I repaying all your trusty service to us brothers?'
Then Charlenagne had millstones attached as before, and he bade Reynald turn his head away, and not look at the horse, should it again reach the surface.Again was Bayard flung into the river; again the horse rose and turned its eyes toward its master.But Reynald had his head directed elsewhere, and when Bayard could not meet his master's eyes, it sank to rise no more.
Sent to me by Bruce Baird March 5, 1999, who said it was his favorite story for the origin of the name BAIRD, one he tells his children and grandchildren.