This is believed to be a surname of Scottish origins, but it may also for a few nameholders at least, be English. It is definately locational and may originate from the village of Barnhill in Tayside, or for most nameholders, Barnhill in Lanarkshire, formerly a village but now a part of the city of Glasgow. However there is also a village so named in the county of Cheshire in England, and it is possible that that the recordings found in English registers, may originate from this village. The village name and hence the later surname, whether English or Scottish, derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word or personal name "beorn" meaning bright, plus "hyll," a hill. So the meaning of the surname may be Beorn's hill or the bright hill, either being possible. The English village is first recorded as far back as the year 959 a.d. in the spelling of Beornhyll, making it one of the earliest place names recorded in the British Isles. The surname is much later, and may have first been as Barnell, a Thomas Barnell being christened at the church of St Andrews by the Wardrobe, in the ancient city of London, in 1615. The first recording in Scotland is at much the sametime with Alexander Barnhill being recorded at the High Church of Glasgow on September 18th 1631, and that of Rebecca Barnhill in the citizens list of the city of Glasgow in the year 1650. John Barnhill is recorded in the registers of the church of St Mary-le-Bone, London, on March 2nd 1803.
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