Thursday, September 17, 2009

Barefoot - What's in a Name?

Origins of the Barefoot Name

English origin: Barefoot is a nickname for a person who was in the habit of conducting his business unshod or without shoes. The name appears to be from Old English bær ‘bare’, ‘naked’ + fot ‘foot’. Perhaps it was the name for a peasant unable to afford even the simplest type of footwear, or a name given to someone who went barefoot as a religious penance, like a friar or a monk. It is also one who came from Barford (barley ford, ford of the bear, birch ford).

In some instances, it is probably a translation of German Barfuss, the northern form Barfoth, or the Danish cognate Barfo(e)d.

The first known Barefoot is Reginald Berfot. year 1203, Pipe Rolls of Cumbria. during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland" 1199 - 1216.

Barefoot has a variety of spellings: Barefoote, Barfot, Barford, Barfoot, Barfitt, Barfit, Barefield, Barefred, Barfoth, Barfoed, Barfod, Berfot, etc., to name a few.

The name is English in Origin (Norman) and surfaced after 1066 after the Battle of Hastings. While it is likely that it could describe an American Indian, it is a name that immigrated to the American continent from the United Kingdom, specifically England, so legend of Indian origins is just a legend.

Also, check pp. 8 - 10 of Sylvia Coleman and Gary Mickle's James Barefoot book. They list many historic references to early Barefoots.

Our own particular Barefoot Clan seems to have settled in Amity Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The first reference that we have to our clan is with Samuel Barefoot and Jean "Jenny" Palmer of Delaware. Their children were Sarah, Martha, Ben, John, and Hannah. Thus we make our next leap to Benjamin Barefoot, subject of the previous post.

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