This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor place so called. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bern", a barn, granary (originally a compound of "bere", barley, with "aern", a house, building), with "feld", pasture, open country. The place was probably in the West Midlands, where the name is most widespread. During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include; Mary Barnfeilde who was christened on November 1st 1572, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London; Thomas Barnfield who married Joyce Foxall on October 27th 1588 at Chelmarsh, Shropshire; and John, son of John and Margaret Barnfield, christened on March 15th 1600 at Childs Ercall, Shropshire. One of the most notable bearers of the name was Richard Barnfield (1574 - 1627), a poet who published many of his own works, including two pieces which appeared in the "Passionate Pilgrim" (1599), and were long attributed to Shakespeare. A Coat of Arms granted to the Barnfield family is a gold shield, on a red bend three silver mullets, a black annulet for difference, the Crest being a black lion's head erased, ducally crowned red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johis Barnfyld, which was dated September 16th 1560, witness at a christening at Worthen Church, Shropshire, 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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