This interesting name is of Old French origin, and is an early medieval occupational surname for a barber. The derivation is from the Old French "barbier", Anglo-Norman French "barber", from the Latin "barbarius", a derivative of "barba", beard. The barber of the Middle Ages was a skilled practitioner; he not only cut hair and shaved beards, but also acted as a surgeon and tooth-puller. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The development of the surname since 1221 (see below) includes the following examples: Thomas le Barber (1282, London), and Seykin le Barbier (1299, ibid.). In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Barber, Barbier and Barbour, the latter is found mainly in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The christening was recorded in Scotland of Sara, daughter of Thomas Barbour, on January 20th 1604, in Edinburgh, Midlothian. Recordings from Staffordshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Robert Barbour and Margaret Wright on January 16th 1607, at Baswick, and the christening of John, son of John and Anne Barbour, on June 22nd 1631, at Abaston. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is described thus: "Argent (silver) a saltire gules (red) between a garb in chief two escallops in fesse and another in base azure (blue). Crest - A passion cross on three grieces gules". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan le Barbur, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Warwickshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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