Recorded in many spelling forms including Baron, Birin, Burren, Barin, Birrane, and possibly Byron, this is a status surname. It derives from the pre 9th century Old French "barun", and as such was probably introduced by the Normans at the time of the 1066 Invasion. Found in England, Ireland, and Scotland, the title originally described either a civic official, and as such one responsible for the jurisdiction of a 'barony', or it was a title carried by a freeman of the cities of London and York. It was also a title given to freemen of the Cinque Ports in Kent and Sussex. These 'Barons' also had the right of bearing the royal canopy at coronations. The rights of jurisdiction particularly applied both in Scotland and Ireland until the 19th century, and even today in the latter country, counties are divided into baronies and townlands. As regards English nameholders, the late Professor Reaney suggested that the name may also have been a nickname for one who was thought to be acting above his station. However given the number of people who legally held the status of baron as of right, this seems illogical. The nicknames for people who were considered to be proud or haughty were King or Pope, appellations that went right over the top! Early examples of the surname recording include Gervase Baronn in the London Names Lists of 1251, Richard le Baron in the 1273 Pipe Rolls of Devon, Osbert le Barun in the 'Close Rolls' of 1274, and John Baron in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lefuine Barun, which was dated 1095, the register of the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, during the reign of King William 11, known as 'Rufus', 1087 - 1100. 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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