This surname was derived from the Old English word 'bische' a locational name meaning the dweller beside the Roman road. An ancient, although now rare personal name, probably brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. It was also a Germanic personal name composed of the elements BIG and HARD, meaning one who was brave, hardy and strong. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he lived. Almost every city, town or village existing in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. Where a man lived was his means of identification. When a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known, and went elsewhere, people would refer to him by the name of his former residence or birthplace, or by the name of the land which he owned. Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child.
Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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