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Our 2,745 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study


I began researching my husband'€™s family in 1978. My newborn son was the first of his generation who would carry on the name. I soon registered it as a One Name Study as it was so unusual. I thought it would be confined to Dorset and the South-West where we originated from but it soon became clear there were pockets throughout the England, including the Channel Islands. There are many CUSTARDs in the USA and I am trying to link them back to ancestors who emigrated there but they mainly seem to be derivations of German emigrants.

The aims of my study are:

  • To collect and index all references to the surname and its variants worldwide
  • To provide relevant information to any Custard researchers and give whatever help I can

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are Custard, Costard and Costerd

  • COSTARD -€“ this is often a misspelling but it appears a lot in Jersey
  • COSTERD - this is often a misspelling

Name origin

The name CUSTARD is of medieval English origin and derives from the Middle-English and Anglo-French "€œcostard"€, a large, popular apple but also a nickname for someone who was '€˜round-headed'€™. The ultimate origin of the word lies in the Old French Coste -€“ '€˜rib'€™ with the suffix '€˜ard'€™, indicating a person or thing characterised by a certain quality. It was therefore given to a grower or seller of the apple and the word '€˜costermonger'€™ developed from it. A quotation from Shakespeare'€™s '€˜King Lear'€™ reads: "€'I'€™d try whither your Costard or my Ballow (baton, stick) be the harder"€. The various spellings include Custard, Costard, Costerd, Custed.

Custard was known in English cuisine at least as early as the fourteenth century. The first reference is as almond milk or almond cream. It contained almonds, thick milk, water, salt and sugar. Custard tarts, popular in the Middle Ages, are the origin of the English word "€œcustard"€. "€œCroustade"€ referred to the crust of the tart. They also contained meat, fish and fruit.

Mr Alfred Bird, chemist, pirated the word custard nearly 170 years ago, as until then custard was always made with eggs. Nowadays custard is synonymous with Birds!

Historical occurrences of the name

  • REGINAL COSTARD 1272 -€“ the first recorded spelling of the family name in the "€œHundred Rolls of Gloucestershire"€
  • JAMES CUSTARD (1778 -€“ 1834) -€“ my husband'€™s 3 x great grandfather served in the 41st Regiment of Foot in the American War of 1812 on the American/Canadian border
  • WALTER HENRY GOSS CUSTARD (HARRY) (1871 -€“ 1964) and his brother EDWARD REGINALD (b 18770) -€“ both came from a musical background and were well-known composers and organists at St Pauls and Liverpool Cathedral

Please note General George Custer is not related, though there is evidence that many German families called KUSTER anglicised their names to CUSTARD on immigrating to the USA.

Name frequency

The 1901 census index, produced by Find My Past, registers 58 CUSTARDs and 12 COSTARDs out of a population of approx. 33 million for England, Wales, Scotland and other islands (including Jersey).

A ONS study, carried out by the Guild in 2002, registered 67 CUSTARDs and 12 COSTARDs out of a population of approx. 55 million. Though the name is unusual and infrequent, it was still ranked the 42,509 most common name out of 270,000 registered.

Distribution of the name

The 1841 census has 32 CUSTARD entries, the majority in the South of England, ie Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire but odd ones in Buckinghamshire and London and a definite cluster in the North-East, ie Durham/Northumberland and one in Midlothian, Scotland. By 1911 there were only 51 entered, still in the same areas but a big increase in London.

In 1841 there were 21 COSTARD entries, comprising 4 families from Jersey, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Bucks. By 1911 there were only 21 entered, living in Jersey, London, Middlesex, Kent and Wiltshire.


  • Births, Marriages and Deaths UK listings from 1837 -€“ 2005 inclusive
  • Pre 1837 Marriage Index for UK
  • Burial indexes for Dorset
  •  Complete indexes of UK census from 1841 -€“ 1911
  • Early parish indexes from OPC
  • Details of Wills
  • Details of World War I and II servicemen
  • Index of reference in UK Trade Directories
  • Telephone listings
  • IGI printouts
  • Many individual family trees
  • Passenger Lists
  • Information from the Society of Genealogists including Boyd’s Inhabitants of London, Apprentices, Owners of Land, 1873 and the Great Card Index
  • Miscellaneous CUSTARD references