This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the places called Barnham in Sussex, Norfolk and Staffordshire. The place in Sussex is recorded as "Berneham" in the Domesday Book of 1086, while the latter two places in Norfolk and Staffordshire both appear in the same source as "Bernham". All of these places have the same derivation, that is from the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Beorn(a)", from "beorn", Old Norse "barn", young warrior, with the Olde English "ham", homestead. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Early examples include Walter de Bernham, mentioned in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk in 1273, and John de Bernham, in the Book of Fees of Kent in 1293. Benedict Barnham is recorded in 1572 in the Register of Oxford University. Sir Francis Barnham (died 1646), M.P., supported the parliamentarians in the Civil War. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a red cross engrailed between four red crescents on a silver shield. The Crest is a red crescent between two laurel branches in orle proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon de Bernham, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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