Recorded in a number of spellings including Berkovich, Berkowicz, Berkowitz, Berkovitz, and probably others, this is a patronymic Askenasic surname of medieval origins. Although now recorded in most western countries, it originates from Eastern Europe and Russia. The name is said to derive from the word ''bere'' also found in the British word ''bear'' and literally meaning that. The bear was long regarded with fear by the early peoples given its great strength and ability to move very quickly, even though it often had a rather shambling gait! Quite why this should become a fairly popular medieval nickname surname is less certain, and it may be that the true meaning remains to be discovered. In England in the 18th century, members of the family who were of Jewish German origin, although Lutheran Christians, changed their name to Baring, and formed a great bank. They also held a baronetcy, the hereditary order of barons, which has some three hundred members. It is unclear when the surname was first recorded, mainly because in the countries of Eastern Europe, keeping records fell well down the list of requirements - during the centuries when just keeping alive was difficult enough. The coming of Communism in 1918 to much of the region ensured that such records as existed were destroyed, along with the nobility and Middle Classes. Today the name is widespread particularly in the USA.
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