Recorded as Burl, Burle, Burles, and Burls, this interesting surname is English. It was a medieval status occupational name for a butler, the chief servant in a royal or noble house, and often one of great power. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "byrele, byrle", meaning a cup-bearer. The title frequently denoted an officer of high rank and responsibility, only nominally concerned with the supply of wine. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century (see below). Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the christening of William, son of John Burles, at St. Mary Aldermary, on May 10th 1566; the christening of John, son of John Burles, on September 24th 1570, at St. James Garlickhithe; and the marriage of Edward Burles and Margerye Bebvyne, on June 2nd 1600, at St. Botolph Bishopsgate. In July 1635, John Burles, aged 26 yrs., departed from the Port of London, aboard the "Blessing" bound for New England. He was one of the earliest of the namebearers in the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Byrle, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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