This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin with variant spellings Bickerstaff, Bickerstaffe, Bickersteth and Bicksteth, is a locational name from a minor place called Bickerstaffe in the parish of Ormskirk, Lancashire, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "beocere", meaning beekeeper, and "steth", landing place. The placename was recorded as "Bikerstad" in the Cockersand Chartulary of 1190. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century (see below), and one Henry Bekerstaff was recorded in the 1397 "Calendar of Inquisitiones Post Mortem". Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowners, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the christening of Robert, son of Robert and Sarah Biggerstaff, on March 26th 1686, at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, and the christening of Edward, son of Edward and Judith Biggerstaff, on June 3rd 1694, at St. Paul's, Covent Gardens, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de Birkestad, which was dated 1246, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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