This unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is either a topographical name from residence by a piece of land overgrown with bushes, or an occupational name for a person who bartered goods and chattels. The derivation, in the first instance, is from the Old French "barthe", patch of ground covered with shrubs. Topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification in the small communities of the Middle Ages, and consequently gave rise to very many early surnames. Toponymics formed by the addition of "-er" to some topographical features were particularly widespread in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Essex from the early 14th Century, the "-er" implying "dweller at ". In the second instance, the derivation is from the Middle English "barter", ultimately from the Old French "barater", to exchange. In 1578, one Adam Barter of Cumberland was entered in the Oxford University Register. The name was introduced into Ireland in the 17th Century, and has been associated almost exclusively with Co. Cork. On October 30th 1798, Thomas, son of Thomas and Mary Barter, was christened in Macroom, North Cork. Richard Barter, M.D. (1802 - 1870), qualified at London College of Physicians, and established St. Anne's water-cure establishment at Blarney, Co. Cork, in 1842. He subsequently set up the first hot-air baths in British dominions, and instituted Turkish baths. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh le Bartur, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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