Birkeley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066 brought the Birkeley family name to the British Isles. They lived in the county of Gloucestershire, where the family held the distinguished title of the Lords of Berkeley Castle. 
Early Origins of the Birkeley family
The surname Birkeley was first found in Gloucestershire where the family name is descended from Thomas de Berkeley, Lord of Berkeley Castle, who was descended from Robert FitzHarding, a Viking of royal blood, and one of the companions at Arms of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
"The first tenant of Berkeley after the conquest was Roger, who in 1086 held lands in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. He bequeathed his lands to his nephew William (Pipe Roll 31 Hen. I, p. 133), founder of the Abbey of Kingswood. By this time probably a Norman castle had been built at Berkeley; for Henry spent Easter there in 1121 ( Anglo-Saxon Chronicles) and Roger, the son and successor of William, having fallen into the hands of Walter, the brother of Miles, earl of Hereford, in the time of the anarchy, was cruelly tortured to make him give up his castle." 
Other early records of the name include: Robert de Berkeley, 3rd feudal Baron Berkeley (c.1165-1220); Thomas I de Berkeley, 4th feudal Baron Berkeley (c.1170-1243); and Maurice II de Berkeley, 5th feudal Baron Berkeley (1218-1281.) This line continued with: Thomas II de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley (1245-1321); Maurice III de Berkeley, 2nd Baron Berkeley (1271-1326); Thomas III de Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley (1293-1361); Maurice IV de Berkeley, 4th Baron Berkeley (1330-1368); and Thomas IV de Berkeley, 5th Baron Berkeley (1352/53-1417.)
"From the fertility of the soil, and its contiguity to the river Severn, it was always a place of considerable importance; and at a very early period it gave name to the great manor of Berkeley, which during the heptarchy was held of the crown, at £500. 17. 2. per annum, by Roger de Berkeley, a near relative of Edward the Confessor, and lord of Dursley, from whom the earliest authentic pedigree of the Berkeley family is deduced. Berkeley, notwithstanding the residence of the oldest branches of the family in their castle at Dursley, was a market-town; and had a nunnery endowed with the large manor. A few years afterwards, William the Conqueror, professing high regard for all the relatives of Edward the Confessor, granted the manor of Berkeley to Roger Berkeley, of Dursley, by whose descendants it was held till the reign of Henry II." 
The parish of Slimbridge in Gloucestershire was also an early home to the family. "The parish is bounded on the north by the Severn, and comprises by measurement 3392 acres, of which the greater part is the property of the Berkeley family. The Gloucester and Berkeley canal and the Gloucester and Bristol railroad intersect it." 
Wooton Under Edge, again in Somerset was another ancient family seat. "On the erection of the new town, a market and fair, with various municipal privileges, were granted by Henry III. to Maurice, Lord Berkeley, in 1254, which laid the foundation of its subsequent importance. During the civil war of the 17th century, a garrison was maintained here in the interest of the king." 
Early History of the Birkeley family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Birkeley research. Another 127 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1219, 1554, 1944, 1530, 1534, 1613, 1579, 1661, 1614, 1579, 1667, 1626, 1640, 1575, 1611, 1604, 1611, 1599, 1668, 1621, 1668, 1601, 1658, 1654, 1630, 1665, 1602, 1678, 1605, 1677, 1610, 1685, 1753 and are included under the topic Early Birkeley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Birkeley Spelling Variations
Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Berkley, Berkeley, Berkely and others.
Early Notables of the Birkeley family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Maurice Berkeley of Bruton in 1530; Henry Berkeley, 7th Baron Berkeley (1534-1613), an English peer and politician, Lord Lieutenant and Vice-Admiral of Gloucestershire, the grandfather of George Berkeley, 8th Baron Berkeley; Richard Berkeley (1579-1661) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1614; Sir Henry Berkeley (1579-1667), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1626 and 1640, supporter of the Royalist side in the English Civil War; Sir Thomas Berkeley (1575-1611), the son and heir apparent of Henry Berkeley, 7th Baron Berkeley, and a...
Another 119 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Birkeley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Birkeley family to Ireland
Some of the Birkeley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Birkeley family
For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Birkeley or a variant listed above were: John Berkley who settled in Virginia in 1622; Elizabeth Berkley and her husband settled in Virginia in 1736; Anna Berkley, her husband, and two children settled in Philadelphia in 1733..
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- ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.