This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "staerling", Middle English "starling" meaning starling, the bird. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal and bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, or to occupation. It was also used occasionally as a personal name: "Starlingus" and "Starlinc" appear in the Domesday Book of Suffolk (1086). The surname first appears in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below), and Richard Sterling was noted in the Pipe Rolls of Hertfordshire (1230). The surname is also found in the variant form Sterling. One of the earliest settlers in the New World Colonies was William Starling, aged 18 yrs., who departed from the Port of London aboard the "Primrose" bound for Virginia in July 1635. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is silver and on a blue bend three gold square buckles. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jordon Starling, which was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cambridgeshire", 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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