This is an English locational surname. It appears to originate from the curiously named twin villages of Goostrey cum Barnshaw, about ten miles from the town of Crewe, in the county of Cheshire. Barnshaw village is first recorded in the year 1200 as 'Bernulisah', and about a century later as Bernulfschawe. The second recording according to Ekwalls 'Place Names of England' gives the meaning of the name as 'Beornwulfs wood', from the Olde English pre 7th century 'beorn' meaning bright and 'wulf', a wolf.However an alternative suggestion based upon the more logical first recording is 'berne-is-leah', or the barns in an enclosure, or a farm. The surname is recorded at the begining of the 18th century, appearing almost simultaneously in its home county of Cheshire, in Yorkshire, and later in Lancashire. This suggests a major change of farming practice, which my have caused some inhabitants to leave the area in search of work and a new home. These recordings include Charles Barnshaw, who married Mary Cook at Mottram in Londendale, Cheshire, on June 20th 1700, Mary Barnshaw, who married Joseph Whitely at Elland, West Yorkshire, on April 13th 1703, and John Barnshaw, who married Mary Brownhill at Manchester Cathedral on September 28th 1794.
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