This name, with variant spellings Birdfield and Burtfield, is of English locational origin from a now lost place believed to have been in Sussex. The forced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century, along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, led to the "lost village" phenomenon. The component elements of the place name are the Old English pre 7th Century "bridd" meaning "bird", plus "feld", open country. The surname is particularly well recorded in church registers of Sussex from the early 17th Century. On February 4th 1610, Abraham Birdfield and Judetha Ford were married in Midhurst, and on April 18th 1683, Jone Burtfield married a William Batcheler in Wisborough. On May 12th 1692, Abrahamus Burdfield and Elizabeth Caplin were married in Shipley, and on April 23rd 1707, the marriage of William Burdfield and Mary Morley took place in Balcombe, Sussex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mary Birdfirld, (marriage to Richard Lee), which was dated January 9th 1609, Pulborough, Sussex, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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