This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon and German origin, and has two possible sources the first being locational from a place so called in Herefordshire; the name means "the ridge overgrown with birch (trees)". The placename is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "birce, bierce", birch. The second source is a German topographical name for someone who lived by a birch tree, or in a birch wood, from the Middle Low German "berke", the Old High German "birihhg, birka", birch. The place in Herefordshire was first recorded as "Burchoure" in the Red Book of the Exchequer in 1212. One of the early recordings in Germany was the christening of Ewa Bircher on June 8th 1587 at Breslau Stadt, Pr. Schlesien. The modern surname can be found as Bircher, Byrcher and Birchner. Among the recordings in Herefordshire are the christenings of William, son of Richard Byrcher, in November 1564 at Wellington, and of Richard, son of Jeroboum and Mary Bircher, on May 28th 1668 at Bodenham. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de la Birche, which was dated circa 1182, in the Middle English Local Surnames of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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