The surname of BURKHILL was derived from the Old English word 'burchele' the dweller at the fort on the hill in County Herefordshire. The name was spelt as BURCHIL in the year 1169. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Other records of the name mention Bechehill (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1335 in County Chester. William de la Bechill, was documented in 1340 in the county of Berkshire. Thomas Burkill of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The earliest hereditary surnames in England are found shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are of Norman French origin rather than native English. On the arrival of the Normans they identified themselves by references to the estates from which they came from in northern France. These names moved rapidly on with their bearers into Scotland and Ireland. Others of the Norman Invaders took names from the estates in England which they had newly acquired. 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. The name is also spelt Burchill, and Burkell. A notable member of the name was William John Burchill (1782-1863) the English botanist and naturalist born in Fulham. He travelled in South Africa (1810-15), as described in his 'Travels in the Interior of South Africa', and he collected many species new to science. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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