This interesting name is a metonymic occupational name for a tanner of leather, and derives from an Olde English pre 7th Century word 'be(o)rc', and Middle English 'bark(en)' meaning to tan. It is also possible that there are some connections with the Anglo Norman French 'bercher', an occupational name for a shepherd, but it is more likely to be a name connected with the tanning process. Jordan le Barkere appeared in the Assize Court Rolls of Essex in 1255 and the Assize Court Rolls of Cambridgeshire record a John le Barker in 1260. One Frances Barke is recorded as having emigrated to James Citie, Virginia circa 1623. Two early recordings of marriages in London are of one Elizabeth Barker and Charles Ferre on 17th July 1682 at St. Katherine by the Tower and one John Barke and Elizabeth Harrison on April 7th 1684 at St. James Dukes Place. Two Coats of Arms were granted to families called Barke, one consisting of three Larks proper on a gold shield, the other showing a silver chevron between three gold crescents. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Patrick Bercar which was dated 1200, Registrum Monasterri de Campuskenneth, 1147 - 1535, during the reign of King William the Lion, "Ruler of Scotland", 1165 - 1214. 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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