This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, believed to have been situated in Devonshire. The placename itself is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Cole, Cola", and either the Olde English "baer", meaning pasture, or "bere", barley, corn. 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, as well as the creation of many variants. Early examples of the surname include: the christening of Mary Colbere, on November 10th 1549 at Feniton in Devon; the christening of Robarte, son of William Colybere on February 19th 1557 and of another son, William, on December 31st 1563, both at Barnstaple in Devon; the marriage of William Colliber and Julyan Shepehearde on January 14th 1600 at West Down, Devon; the christening of Anne Colbeare on June 15th 1606 at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London; and the marriage of Judith Coolbear and James Nightengale on March 5th 1811 at Christ Church, Southwark in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Collebere, which was dated 1538, a christening witness at Northam in Devon, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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