It can be stated categorically that this is a locational surname and that it derives from a lost medieval village which was originally in the West Midlands, and probably Staffordshire. All the early recordings come from this county or from Salop (Shropshire), and our investigation suggests that the site was between Kidderminster, Shrewsbury, and Wolverhampton. There at some five thousand surnames which are known to have derived from now lost sites, this name is perhaps unusual in that the name holders are still well recorded in the locality. Usually if a village was forcibly cleared under the Enclosure Acts, the former villagers took to the roads and usually headed for the big cities of London, Bristol, and Norwich in particular. When this happened the inhabitants took as their surname, the name of their former village as a means of identity. The origin of the name is probably from the Viking personal name Bjorn, meaning warrior, almost all place names commencing "Barn" have this meaning. "Brook" may be correct or it may be an corrupted form of "beorc" meaning a beach wood. However the recordings are quite clear, and they include John Barnebrook, the son of Nicholas and Anne (nee James), christened at Stottesden Farlow, Salop, on January 17th 1596, Hannah Barnbroke, christened at St Matthews Church, Walsall, on July 23rd 1750, and Zipporah Barnbrook, daughter of John and Hester, christened at Brierley Hill, Staffs, on September 11th 1825. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Homfrey Barnbrooke, which was dated October 18th 1592, married Elizabeth Bradne at Penn, Staffordshire, 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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