Recorded in a wide range of spellings including Barling, Berling, Burling, Buerling, Birlingham, Burlingame, and Burlingham, this is usually an English surname. It is locational from a village in the county of Worcestershire called Birlingham, or a similarly named village called Birling, in the county of Kent. The Worcester village is first recorded in the famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, sometimes called "The first newspaper," in the year 972 a.d., as Byrlingahamm, the homestead of the Byr people, whilst the Kent village is even older. It is recorded in 788 a.d. as Boerlingas, which may refer to a pig farm, or to a tribe called the Boers. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes to move elsewhere, probably in search of work. It was, and to some extent it remains, that one of the easiest ways to identify a stranger, was to call him, or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic, and local accents very thick, soon lead to the development of alternative or "sounds like" spellings. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Dorite Burling, christened at St Peters Westcheap, on January 15th 1561, Henry Burlingham, who married Marie Barrett at St Anns Blackfriars on July 26th 1590, and Mary Burlingame, who married John Hall, at St. Mary Pattens, on July 7th 1644. Anson Burlingame was an early American ambassador to China. Famous for making agreements without any reference to his own government, he died in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1869.
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