This unusual and interesting surname is of Old French pre 9th century origins. Recorded in many spellings including Guerre, Guierre, Laguerre (French), Guerra, Guerrero, (Spanish), Guerreiro (Portugese), Guerri (Italian), Guerriero (Sicillian), and Warr or Warre (English), the name derives from the word ‘guerre’ meaning ‘war’. Seemingly the surname was originally a nickname, which described either a soldier who had returned home ‘from the wars’, or a ‘belligerent’ person. The word as ‘guerre’ was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, but it is by no means clear as to how the surname spread to Italy and the Spanish peninsula, as it does not appear to have a Latin base. Medieval nicknames were given for a variety of reasons including personal appearance, physical peculiarities, or moral characteristics. This gave rise to some very unusual surnames, many of which were obscene and crude! Examples of name recordings taken from various countries include John Warre of Lincoln, England, in 1468, Jan Guerre, at Bornville, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, on August 7th 1575, Magdalena Ortiz Guerra, at Nazar, Navarra, Spain, on October 19th 1586, and Bartolome Guerro, at San Sebastian, Spain, on September 28th 1613, when he married Ana de Ortega. An interesting recording is that of Maria Joseph Guerra-Noriega, at Santa Barbara, California, on July 2nd 1826. The ancient coat of arms has the distinctive blazon of a red field, charged with a single silver lure. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Herebertus la Guerre, which was dated 1179, in the pipe rolls of the county of Dorset, England, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as “The church builder”, 1154 – 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Source: Surname Database