This unusual name, found chiefly in the south western counties of England, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and represents the rare survival of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Beorht, Byrht", from "beorht", bright, famous. This was used as a short form of various compound names with "beorht" as the first element, and was reinforced by the introduction of a variety of Old Germanic personal names, with the equivalent "berht", by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. These names include, for example, Berthier, "bright-army", and Bertram, "bright-raven". The short form of the given name is recorded as "Berta" in Norfolk in circa 1101, and as "Berte" in the Sussex Pipe Rolls of 1196, and the modern surname forms are Bert, Birt and Burt. The development of the name has included the following examples: Geliana Birte (1539, Devonshire); Jone Byrt(e) (1554, ibid.); William Burte (1559, Somerset); and Thomas Bearte (1597, Gloucestershire). Among the recordings of the surname in Church Registers are those of the marriages of Jone Burt and John Byerd in Modbury, Devonshire, on January 25th 1556, and of Henry Burt and Barbara Lawrence, on January 10th 1564, at Latcham in Gloucestershire. One Anthony Burt was an early settler in the American Colonies; he is included in a "Muster of the Inhabitants in Virginia", taken in 1624, having arrived on the "Hopewell" in 1622. The Burt Coat of Arms depicts, on a silver shield, three gold crosses crosslet fitchee on a red chevron, between three black buglehorns, stringed red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hamo Burt, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk", 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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