This unusual surname is a variant of Burkman, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is derived from the Middle English (1200-1500) "burghman, borughman", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "burhmann", meaning "inhabitant of a (fortified) town"; the first element "burh" is itself derived from the Old High German "burg", which was the usual Germanic word for a fortification. In the Middle Ages any sizeable habitation had to be fortified, but in England the Middle English term "burc" came to be specialized to denote the site of a prehistoric hill fort. However, Burkman was usually used to identify one holding land or buildings by "burgage" (from the Latin "burgagium"; this involved the payment of a fixed money rent (as opposed to money in kind); in Scotland it involved payment in service, guarding the town. The modern surname can be found as Burkman, Burman, Borro(w)man, Barrowman and Barryman. Recorded in the London Church Registers are the marriages of Robert Burman and Elizabeth Griffen, on June 22nd 1570, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and of William Burman and Agnes Halsnode on June 13th 1571, at St. Peter's, Westcheap. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Burman (Burghman), which was dated 1221, witnesss in the "Assize Rolls of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216-1272. 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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