Recorded in many spellings including Barefoot, Barfoot, Barfot, Barfitt, Burfitt, and probably others, this is an English medieval surname. It is apparently a nckname, and as such was one given to a friar, monk or holy man, one who habitually walked in bare feet! The derivation is from the pre 7th century Olde English word "baer", meaning bare, and "fot", a foot. Surnames from nicknames form one of the largest group of medieval surnames. Given the robust and Chaucerian humour of the period which took no prisoners, these names often meant the very reverse of what they appear to state, although that can hardly be the case here. As it happens there are or rather were, similar examples in the spellings of Emeloth Bareshanke in the register of the abbey of Ely in 1221, and Simon Barleg in the accounts of the duchy of Cornwall in 1297, and both suggest a religious background. These surnames would seem to be extinct. The friar in Shakespears "Romeo and Juliet" is described as "a barefoote brother". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Berfot. This was dated 1203, in the Pipe Rolls of Cumbria. during the reign of King John of England, known as "Lackland" 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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