Recorded in several spellings including Birch, Burch, Bircher, Byrcher, and Birchner, this is an Anglo-Saxon surname. It is believed to originate from the pre 5th century Saxon words birihhg, birka, and later birch or burch, and be topographical for a person who lived by (or in) a birch wood, or locational from places called Birch or Burch, of which there are examples in England and Germany. Surnames such as Oak, & Oakes, Beech, and Ash are very similar, and whilst in some cases the name may be job descriptive, this is rare. Wood played a very large roll in the life of almost everybody before the 16th century. It provided the basic means of building a dwelling, as well as the main fuel source, and in many cases, a large slice of the diet through ''nuts,'' one of the few nutritious foods which could be kept for longish periods of time. An example of the place name is Birch (village) in the county of Hertfordshire, England. It was first recorded as Burchoure in the tax registers known as the Red Book of the Exchequer, in the year 1212. This was during the reign of the infamous King John of England who according to legend mixed it with Robin Hood, and fell out with the barons, but still managed to reign from 1199 - 1216. He died it is said, from eating too many eels! This seems unlikely, the only likely bit is that he died. Early examples of recordings include Richard de Birches of Lancashire in 1246, and William de la Burch of the county of Somerset in 1275. In Germany the early recordings tend to be later than in England but we have Ulrich Bircher of Gottenheim in 1492, and the christening of Ewa Burcher at Breslau Stadt, Schlesien, on June 8th 1587. The first recording anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Walter de la Birche, in the Middle English Local Surnames list of the county of Worcestershire, in the year 1182. Surnames are a product of taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax, and required everybody to pay something.
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