This interesting surname is of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name for a "dweller by the birch tree or wood". The derivation of the name is from the German, "birke", Olde English pre 7th Century "birce", birch tree or wood. The birch tree is characterized by having small leaves, white bark, and a fragrant odour. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Barck, Barcke and Barke, to Berk, Bark and Barg. Recordings of the surname from various Church Registers include: the marriage of Hanss and Reineke Bark on September 7th 1628, at Detmold, Lippe, Germany; the marriage of Christina Bark and Peter Schmitt at Birkenfeld, Oldenburg, Germany, on June 7th 1631; and the christening of John, son of Michaell and Ann Bark, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, on May 27th 1654. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family depicts a gold chevron between three gold crescents on an azure shield, the Crest being an arm from the shoulder issuant holding a spade proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wihlms Aydams Barg, which was dated 1586, witness at the christening of his son, Nicolaus Joann, at Graach, Rheinland, Germany, during the reign of Rudolf 11, Habsburg Emperor, 1576 - 1612. 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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