This is an English locational surname which derives from the hamlet of Bigrigg, near Egremont in Cumberland. The surname in its early recordings was always associated with the small town of St Bees, and for over a hundred and fifty years the surname in its various spellings of the time, was only found in the church registers of that place. In the 18th century the name spread gently to other parts, specifically to Brigham in 1707, to Whitehaven in 1717, and to Cockermouth in 1750, when one John Bigrigg was christened there on May 6th of that year.Subsequently the surname became associated with Cockermouth, and the majority of later recordings are to be found there. Most unusually the surname is not recorded in London at all before the 20th century. Whilst not quite unique, there are a few other examples, in that respect it is very rare. The name, according to Ekwall's 'Dictionary of English Placenames' means 'the barley ridge'. This is almost certainly wrong. The Olde English for 'barley' is 'bere'. The place name is first recorded in the year 1235 in the spelling of 'Bigrig', and this is a development of the Olde English pre 7th century 'bygg' ('big', or perhaps 'burial ground') plus 'hyrggr' - a ridge, the big ridge. Early recordings include Mabella Bigrige, who married Jacob Hobson at St Bees, on August 5th 1582, and Thomas Biggrigge, the son of Henrici Biggrigge, christened at St Bees on November 19th 1626. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edmundi Bigrige, which was dated February 27th 1559, a witness at St. Bees, Cumberland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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.
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