This unusual "Baltic" surname has ancient origins. It derives from the pre 6th Century Saxon (German) "Bahr", or the Scandinavian Viking "Biorn", baptismal names which literally translate as "the bear", but describe one of implied strength and ferocity! The name is found in many variant forms in all European and Scandinavian countries, the spelling examples being as diverse as Baer (Germany), Bear (U.K.), Beers (Denmark), Beronneau (France), and Barellini (Italy), although altogether there are in excess of one hundred versions. Certain researchers describe the name as a nickname, but this is not so. The early pre-surname (1000 A.D.) period developed their single baptismal name from topographical features, religion, war, or personal features. The bear represented strength and ferocity, and was therefore a suitable candidate for a name base. In its modern form the most common baptismal spelling is "Bern(h)ard", translating as "little bear", Berzon(s) and Berzin(s) being surname forms of the same translation "little bear" or "son of bear". Name recordings include: Anna Clara Berzin, who married Conradt Bildhaver at Bacharach, Rheinland, on January 6th 1733, whilst Ludis Berzins (also recorded as Berzinsj) was baptised at Doblen, Latvia, on September 14th 1870. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Catrina Bertzen, which was dated March 20th 1692, christened at Anrath, Rheinland, Germany, during the reign of Leopold 1, Holy Roman Emperor, 1658 - 1705. 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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