This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be a topographical name for someone who lived by a hill or tumulus, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "beorg" meaning a hill or mountain, or, in some cases, for someone who lived by a fort, from the Olde English "burh" a fort, usually a Roman fortification. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The second possible derivation is from the Olde English "bur" meaning a bower or cottage with "hus" a house, the surname from this source meaning either a "dweller by the bower-house", or used as an occupational name for someone employed there. The surname has many variant spellings ranging from Burrus, Burris and Burress to Burrows. Early examples of the surname form London Church Registers include; Thomasine, daughter of Edward Burras, who was christened on January 3rd 1612 at St. Olave's, Hart Street; and William Burras who married Elizabeth Beard on February 8th 1629 at St. James's, Clerkenwell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Burhus, which was dated 1440, in "A Descriptive Catalogue of Sheffield Manorial Records", during the reign of King Henry V1, known as "The Founder of Eton", 1422 - 1461. 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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