This surname is locational, from Berkeley a parish and market town in Gloucestershire or Berkeley in Somerset, both so called from the Old English pre 7th Century "be(o)rc" meaning "birch" plus "leah" "wood" or "clearing" hence "birch wood". The name is particularly prominent in Scotland which suggests that it was brought in by a Berkeley from Gloucestershire in the 12th Century. Recordings of the name date back to the late 11th Century (see below). Further recordings include Robert de Barclay (1195) "the Subsidy Rolls of Northumberland" and Egidius de Berkeley (1273) "The Subsidy Rolls of Oxfordshire".Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Berkelay, Berkeley, Barkly etc.. One Elizabeth Barkley was christened in Bruton, Somerset on April 20th 1558 and Henry Barclay married Jane Townsend on March 10th 1596 at St. Gile's, Cripplegate, London. One William Barclay (circa 1570 - 1630) was a Scottish writer who obtained an M.A. and M.D. at Louvain. He was a professor of humanity in Paris University and he also practised medicine in Scotland. His works include "The Vertues of Tobacco" 1614. Lachn Barclay aged 50 yrs., a famine emigrant to New York, sailed aboard the Brooksby from Glasgow on June 1st 1846 together with his wife Margaret (aged 46 yrs.,) and four sons David (aged 13 yrs), Alexander (aged 8 yrs), Louis (aged 6 yrs), and Archd (aged 3 yrs). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger de Berchalai, which was dated 1086 - "The Domesday Book", during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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