This unusual surname is of French origin, and is primarily a metonymic occupational name for a cooper, a maker of barrels or casks. The derivation is from the Old French "baril", barrel, cask, but this word may also have been used as a nickname to describe one of rotund appearance, "the ydell and barrell bealies of monkes" (1561, New English Dictionary). A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames; these nicknames were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, and to habits of dress and occupation. Early examples of the surname include: William Baril (Worcestershire, 1185) and Stephen le Bariller (London, 1224); the latter example contains the agent suffix "er" (one who does, or works with). On September 17th 1563, John Barrell and Elizabeth Jones were married at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, London, and on May 14th 1727, Jean Baril, an infant, was christened at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, London, indicating that the name was re-introduced into Britain by French Huguenot refugees fleeing religious persecution in their own country from the late 17th Century onwards. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Turstin Baril, which was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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