Recorded in several forms including Byrkyn, Birkin and Burkin, this is an English surname. It is locational from a place called Birkin near Knottingley, in the county of West Yorkshire. The placename is recorded as 'Byrcene' in the Yorkshire Charters of 1030, and as 'Berchine', and 'Berchinge' in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means 'the birch grove', derived from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'bircen', here used in a substantive sense to mean the place of the birch grove. Locational surnames were usually given to the lord of the manor, and especially to those former inhabitants of a place who left it to live or work in another area, where they were most easily distinguished by the name of their former home. The name is recorded heraldically, the arms being three gold cypress sprigs on an azure field, Sir Tim Birkin being a famous racing driver of the 1930's. An early example of the surname taken from the surviving church registers is that of William Birkin who married Ann Prince on the 20th November 1614 at Kippax, whilst Joane Byrkyn married Nicholas Flemyng on April 24th 1569 at St. Margaret's Westminster. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth Ist of Englabnd, and known as Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. 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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