This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from a place thus called in Lancashire, three miles south of Manchester. Burnage is recorded as "Bronage, Bronnegge" and "Brownegg" in the 1322 Lancashire Inquests, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brune", brown, and "hecg", hedge; hence, "brown hedge". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. It has also been suggested that the name is locational from some minor, unrecorded, or "lost" place in the south of England, because of the large number of early recordings found there. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the main cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced clearing to make way for sheep pastures, and the Black Death of 1348. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Burnidge, Burnige, Burnage and Barnedge. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Edward Burnage and Ursalie Cave on October 7th 1583, at Baldock, Hertfordshire, and the christening of Sarah, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Burnage at Oldbury, Shropshire, on October 3rd 1682. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Burnidge, which was dated April 10th 1560, witness at the christening of his daughter, Jane, at Willian, Hertfordshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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