Recorded in many forms including Bourges, Bourgaize, Bourgeois, (France), Burgess, Burges and Burgis (England and Scotland), Borghese, Borgesio and Burgisi (Italy), and others, this interesting surname is of pre 8th century Old French origins. It derives from the word "burgeis", meaning inhabitant and freeman of a fortified town, one which could apply municipal rates, taxes, and duties. A burgeis generally had tenure of land or buildings from a landlord by "burgage", which involved the payment of a fixed money rent. In Scotland, the position of burgess required not only the making of payments, but to be availble to take part in guarding the town. The surname is one of the earliest recorded anywhere in the world. These recordings are from England because this country was the first to adopt both hereditary surnames and to make the necessary registers in which to record them. France was several centuries later, and Italy, not until the 19th century in most areas. Early recordings showing the influence of the Norman-French in England after the Invasion of 1066 include: Ralph le Burgeis, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Sussex in 1195, and Philip Bourges in the cartulary of Oseney Abbey, Oxford in 1197. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Burgeis, which was dated 1115, in the "Winton Rolls" of Hampshire. This was during the reign of King Henry 1st, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Over the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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