This interesting surname, with variant spelling Berker, has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a metonymic occupational name for a tanner of leather deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "be(o)rc" and Middle English "bark(en)" meaning to tan (from the bark of a tree, which was used in the process). One Hordan le Barkere, appears as a witness in the Assize Court Rolls of Essex (1255). The surname may also have derived from the Old French "berch(i)er", "berk(i)er" a shepherd. With the change of "-ar-" to "-er-" in Middle English ("barker" meaning shepherd) this became indistinguishable in form from "barker" a tanner. Alurdeus le Berkier, is noted in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire (1193), and John le Bercher, appears in the Curia Regis Rolls of Hampshire (1212). The marriage of Ann Barker and Thomas Bulstrod took place on June 16th 1541, at St. Martin Pomeroy, London, and Edward Barker married Margaret Stevenson at St. Peter Cornhill, London on February 4th 1551. One of the earliest settlers in the New World was Mary Barker, aged 20 yrs., who departed from the port of London aboard the "Mathew", bound for St. Christopher's, in the Barbados, on May 21st 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Berker, which was dated 1185, in the "Records of the Templars in Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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