This interesting name is of Medieval English origin and is locational from a place so called in Surrey. The earliest recording of this placename appears in the Ancient Charters of 1121 as 'Burestou', and in the Charter Rolls of 1247 as 'Burstowe' and in the 'Index to the Charter Rolls in the British Museum' as 'Birstowe'. The derivation of this surname is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'burgstow' or 'byrgstow', 'burg' meaning a fortified place, and 'stow', a place, often a holy or sacred site. During the Middle Ages, when people began to migrate from their villages to seek work elsewhere they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification. Amongst the early recordings in Horley, Surrey, are the christenings of An Burstow on February 28th 1584 and Benjamyn Burstow on January 22nd 1580. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Burstowe, which was dated 1301, in the Writs of Parliament, London, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. 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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