This very unusual surname is believed to be an Anglicized form of the Old French "Barlier", once used to describe a fisherman who used an "engine", probably a trawl or similar. The name was probably introduced into England in the 12th Century, and then re-introduced by the Huguenots after 1685. Certainly after this date the name appears in the records of the French Huguenot Churches in London. Given the diffused origin, it is not perhaps surprising that there are many spelling forms from Borlease and Borleace, to Barles(s), Borles(s), Burles(s) and Barlace, although all are quite rare. Whilst first recorded in England (see below), for a time the name was claimed to be Scottish, however, the first such recording was one James Barles, of Cultmalundie, in 1670, well after the English Registers, whilst John Barless, of Foullis, is recorded in 1750. In England, the varied examples include: Joane Barlease, who married Robert Coxon at the Church of St. Bartholomew the Less, London, on March 12th 1614; Elizabeth Barlas, who married John Smith at Epping, Essex, on March 28th 1789; whilst on October 21st 1804, Sarah Jane Barlass was christened at St. Ann's Church, Soho, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edward Burles, which was dated June 30th 1558, a witness at the Church of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "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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