The surname of BARRA was a locational name from Great and Little Barrow in Cheshire. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion in the form Baro, and the earliest of the name on record appears to be BARO (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1066. Barwe Gurnay appears in Cheshire in the year 1283. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Other records of the name mention Walter de la Barrah, who was recorded during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and John de Barewe, County Somerset, ibid. Edward Barrowe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Barrows married Mary Jones at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1759. 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. 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 name has numerous spellings which include Barro, Barroe, Barrowe and Barrow.
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