The surname of BARR is of local origin from Barr in Ayrshire, or Barr in Renfrewshire. The surname is found today most frequently in the district of Glasgow. Early records of the name mention Atkyn de Barr, bailie of Ayr in 1340. Patrick Barr was recorded as a charter witness in Glasgow in 1551. Archibald Barr was the burgess of Glasgow documented in the year 1612. The name was taken to Ireland by settlers, particularly in the counties of Donegal and Derry. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. A notable member of the name was Archibald Barr (1855-1931) the Scottish engineer, born near Paisley. As an engineering apprentice he graduated at Glasgow University. He eventually founded the firm of scientific instrument makers who were pioneers of naval range-finding and later height finders for anti-aircraft gunnery. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnaminity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people.
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