Recorded as Barn, Barnes, Barns and the patronymic Barnson, this is an Anglo-Irish surname, with some Norse Viking antecedents. It has three possible origins. Firstly, it may be a topographical name or occupational name for someone who lived or worked at a barn. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "bern", meaning a granary. The placename Barnes, on the Surrey bank of the Thames in West London, has the same origin, and some bearers may be members of families hailing from there. Secondly, it may derive from the Olde English and Norse word "beorn" meaning a young warrior. Thirdly, it may be of Irish origin, from the Gaelic O'Bearain, meaning 'A male descendant of the spear warrior' from 'bearan' meaning spear. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church register recordings in the city of London include the marriage of John Barnes to Joane Bowes on September 16th 1539 at St. Mary Woolnoth, and the christening of Bernard Barnson at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 29th 1686. Earlier Barnabie Barnes was one of the first emigrants to the New World. He left London on the ship "Transport" in July 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip de Bernes, which was dated 1250, in "Sir Christopher Hatton's Book of Seals of Surrey", during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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