Back in 1990 when I started to research my Tart ancestors, I sent a letter to everyone named Tart in England that I could find in the phone books, about 200 people as I recall. I got three letters back about the origin of the Tart name. The litle I have found since strengthens what these letters indicated. Here's my notes on them:
The Name "Tart"
Notes originally made by Charles T. Tart (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 5, 1991
Mr. Harold William Tart, of 16, Back Lane, HILTON, Derbyshire, DE6 5GJ (Tel. 028 373 4275)(now deceased) writes:
I am 79 years of age and was born in the County of Shropshire, which is in Central England and borders on East Wales, which was a separate country in earlier years. The largest river in Great Britain is the Severn, which rises in Wales, flows east and south into England, and is often the boundary between Wales and England. The place of my birth on 28 June, 1911, was a small township named Dawley, about two miles away from another small town on the eastern bank of the River Severn and named Ironbridge. This is where the Industrial Revolution of England and the World commenced .
A few mile further upriver is a totally different small town named Wenlock, where there are the remains of a monastery dating back to before the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy in 1066. It is possible that the first person named Tart entered this country soon after 1067.
When William invaded England, he left behind him in Normandy a close friend named Robert, with the task of ensuring that no one seized Normandy in William's absence. A year later, Robert joined William and was rewarded by being made the Duke of Montgomery. Among the possessions which accompanied the title was the Abbey of Wenlock.
In due course Robert's representatives came to inspect Wenlock Abbey. They found the Abbey to be in a very weary way, in all respects. Now Robert was patron of a large and successful Cluniac monastery in Burgundy in France, so he sent there for some monks to come to England and take over Wenlock. No one in the monastery was keen to comply, so it was decided to make up a party from a smaller monastery which was subject to the large one.
A group was made up and included skilled workers as well as monks. Either as a cleric or a worker, the party included one or two men from a vineyard adjacent to the smaller monastery. The name of the vineyard was "Le clos de Tart."
The name TART derives from an old French word TERTRE, which means "the little hill." To this day there is a vineyard in Burgundy called "Le clos de Tart." It is in private ownership, but was once owned by the Popes. The wine from this vineyard is relatively expensive, and can be bought in America as well as England and France.
In due course the monks and retinue arrived in Wenlock and took charge of the Abbey. The monastery survived until the reign of Henry the Eighth, who quarreled with the Pope and closed all the monasteries in England, beginning with those which had a French base.
There is a village named Leighton on the left bank of the River Severn and not far from Wenlock. In the sixteenth century the Parish Church Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths contain references to a growing number of people named Tart. They had not yet spread very far from the Abbey in Wenlock.
For safe keeping, Parish Records have been sent in to Record Offices set up in the chief town of each County. The records from Leighton Parish Church, Shropshire, are now held in the Record Office, the Shire Hall, Shrewsbury.
Mr. Warwick Tart of "Vysebury," 5, Telford Road, Wellington, TELFORD, Shropshire TF1 2EL (Tel. 0952 223953) writes:
I am preparing a family history of the Tarts and, hopefully, a book when I have more time....There are not too many Tarts in Britain, most of which are in this area. Published village records show many of us going back to the 1600s.
When I was a college, many years ago, I referred to a book on surnames which stated that TART was from the French TERTRE, meaning a hillock or small hill.
Recently I was looking at the sleeve of a record on baroque music and saw the name "du Tertre." It is thought that we were Huguenots who fled France. About 12 years ago my wife was reading "Homes and Gardens," a glossy magazine, when she said "Look here, there is a 4-page article on the Tarts of Dungeness on the south coast of England. Unfortunately I have lost this article but I have been to Dungeness where it was explained to me that there were only three surnames in the whole village, one of which was TART. Apparently they fled France about 300 years ago and have literally stayed on the beach ever since. Their houses were built of corrugated iron and were constructed on the shale.
I am informed that Marcel Tart raced for France in his car in 1906. There is, therefore, a definite French connection.
G. Tart of 3 Brookside Crescent, Wath on Dearne, ROTHERHAM S63 6AF, writes:
I have studied the name Tart for many years and during this time have gathered reams of information about the name and various branches of the family.
There is some belief that the name is of French origin, Tartre, and in England the name seems to go back only to the 1550s, when there were very few of that name and they all lived in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. One story is that a French monk of that name was at the Abbey of Much Wenlock and from him stemmed the others!! Another view is that another branch came to England during the Huguenot persecutions of France and others, whilst agreeing that the name is of French origin, say some Tarts came to England when England "owned" parts of France...Normandy, Burgundy, etc.
There is no definite answer as some records as far back as 1100 have a reference to Tarte!!....The name is unusual and apparently it is said that it also occurs in Canada, where it is the name of French Canadians....hence strengthening the French link.
It is said that the name was Tardy, which is a French place name near Burgundy....which was British once and also a Huguenot stronghold....so perhaps they may have some truth? With family history research people often look for the romantic and it is important therefore to have the facts first.
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