This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the various places thus called, for example, Barnsley in Dorset, Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, and in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Recorded respectively as "Bernardeslega, Bernesleis, Benverdeslei" and "Berneslai" in the Domesday Book of 1086 for the various counties, the first element, in all cases is the genitive of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Beorn" (Warrior), or "Beornmod" (Warrior Spirit), plus "leah", a wood or clearing; hence, "Beorn's wood", or "Beornmod's wood". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname was first recorded in the mid 16th Century (see below). On June 30th 1566, Elizabeth Barnsley and Willus Tompson were married at St. Peter's Cathedral, Sheffield. One Walter Barnsley appears in the Oxford University Register, dated 1578, and on May 12th 1636, Marie Barnsley, an infant, was christened in Hazleton, Gloucestershire. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is on a red shield a gold cross between four gold roses, leaved green, the Crest being a silver dragon passant charged on the breast with a red rose. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Katerina Barnsley, which was dated April 4th 1546, christened at Kirkburton, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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