This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a now "lost" place, thought to have been in Yorkshire, due to the large number of recordings in this county. The placename is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "byrde", river bank and "heafod" hill or head of a stream, thus, the riverbank at the head of a stream, thus, "the river bank at the head of a stream". An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain since circa 1100, due to such natural disasters as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, or to the widespread practice of "clearing" large areas of land to make sheep pastures during the height of the wool-trade in the 14th and 15th Centuries. Among the recordings in Yorkshire are the marriage of Robert Barehead and Jane Horner on November 25th 1617 at St. Michael-le-Belfry. One James Barehead married Elezabeth Barwicke on January 12th 1645 at Holy Trinity, Micklegate, also in Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Doreth Bayrhead (christening), which was dated March 24th 1563, Thirsk, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "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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