Recorded in the spellings of Barr, Barre, (English) Barra, Bara, Y Barra, I Barra, (Spanish & Portuguese) Barre, Barra, Labarre, De la Barre, (French), Barreiro, Barrera, (Spanish and Mexican) and many other forms, this surname can only be described as 'European'. In one spelling or another, it is recorded in every country in that region, the same spelling, usually Barra, being recorded almost everywhere. It is believed to derive from the ancient pre 7th century a.d. 'barre' which is normally regarded as 'Old French', but may equally have been Celtic or Gaelic. It means a hilltop or summit, although the later 12th century medieval meaning is a gate or barrier, often at the entrance to a walled city. To add to the confusion the name can also be locational deriving from a number of villages in France such as Barre des Orbe and Barre de Semilly, and it can be occupational for a maker of 'bars' i.e. gates. Alexander Barraman is recorded in the island of Barbadoes in 1679, as having ten acres of land and two servants. Early examples of the surname recordings include Jean de la Barre, at Chenille-Change, Maine et Loire, France, on September 12th 1604, whilst Nicole Barra was born at Avaux, Ardennes, France on January 20th 1702. Alonso Barra was recorded at San Nicholas de Bart, Valladolid, Spain, on January 19th 1716, Mathias Antonio Barra at Santa Veracruz, Districto Federal, Mexico, on February 26th 1745, and Juana Barrera at San Diego, California, on January 22nd 1815. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anger de la Barra, which was dated 1217, the registers of the city of London, England, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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