This very East Anglian surname appears to have related to one who lived near, or worked in, a churchyard. In the 1881 Census there were 415 instances of the surname, mostly in East Anglia and predominantly in Suffolk.
Thomas Churchyard was a Suffolk painter and illustrator in the early 19th Century. He was born in Melton, near Woodbridge, in 1789 and was a became a lawyer as well as an artist whose passion was for Suffolk landscapes. Thomas died in 1865 and his art is collected and enjoyed today.