The surname of BERKEY was a locational name 'the dweller by the birch trees', from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man lived and held land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name was derived from the Old English word BIRC. Early records of the name mention Richard del Birkes, 1275, Wakefield, Yorkshire. Johannes del Byrkes was recorded in 1327 in the County of Yorkshire. Johannes del Byrkes of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richard Birkes of Oxford, registered at Oxford University in 1607. Edward Birkes married Susanna Selby, St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1741. Benjamin Birks married Mary Slater, St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1753. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. (Burke).
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