This ancient, unusual, and complex surname, recorded in several forms including Barrable, Barriball, Barribal, Baribal, Barrabeale, Bariball, Berribal and Boribal, is medieval English, and almost certainly locational. The derivation is from the French words berri and bal, meaning the castle on the mound or hillock. Well recorded in the West Country, the name probably originates from a now 'lost' medieval village, of which the only surviving memory is the surname itself. Some five thousand British surnames are known to originate from lost places, and this would appear to be another to add to the ever growing list. In the two centuries after the Norman-French Conquest of England in 1066 over a thousand castles or motts were constructed, including for example Berry Pomeroy in Torbay, Devonshire, although only about half are still recognizeable, the remainder having vanished. With this surname whilst it is true that the recordings are most numerous in the church registers of Devon and Cornwall, the earliest known recording as shown below, is from the charters of Oxfordshire, leaving the place of origin open to conjecture. Examples of church recordings taken at random include the marriage of Agneta Bariball to Gualterus Bonye at the church of St. Teath in Cornwall, on April 23rd 1567, whilst John Berribal was a christening witness at Buckland Brewer, Devon, on October 1st 1607, and Anne Barribal was christened at the church of St. Mary Major, Exeter; on June 9th 1738. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Emma Boribal. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England. He was known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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