This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from a place thus called in Rutland, east of Oakham. The placename was recorded as "Bernardeshull" in the 1202 Assize Court Rolls, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Beornheard" (a byname with the first element being the Olde English "beorn", warrior), with "hyll", hill; hence "Beornheard's hill". 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. The surname can also be found as Barnsdall, Barnsdell, Barnsedale and Barnesdale. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Nycholas Barnsdale and Barbara Marshall on August 2nd 1562 at St. Margaret Pattens, London; the marriage of Peter Barnsdale and Jane Newton on November 30th 1600 at Stubton, Lincolnshire; and the christening of Henricus, son of William Barnsdale on September 7th 1618 at St. Mark's, Lincoln. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is a shield divided per saltire gold and silver, charged with four black eagles displayed in cross, the Crest being a silver eagle's head and neck, beaked red issuing from gold rays of the sun. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Bowrnestall, which was dated October 2nd 1553, christened at St. Martin and St. Gregory, York, during the reign of Queen Mary, known as "Bloody Mary", 1553 - 1558. 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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