Unravelling a group of Cornish surnames

Several surnames are supposed to have derived from the first name Bartholomew. These include Bartle, a short form, and Bartlett, a double diminutive. Actually, the double diminutive seems to have established itself first, with several examples of Bartlett in the 1500s strongly implying two points of origin in south east Cornwall and north east of the Camel estuary.

Map 1: Parishes with a Bartlett presence before 1600

Examples of the full name Bartholomew are far fewer (in fact only two) but did appear early in the 1500s. Both Bartholomew and Bartlett predate Bartle, which emerged later in the century in the west, although close to one of the earlier Bartholomews.

Map 2: The early geography (pre-1600) of Bartholomew and some derivatives

Around the same time, in the latter part of the 1500s, the form Bartla also turned up. This was restricted to St Enoder parish in mid-Cornwall and at first glance looks like a development of the name Bartle as it moved eastwards.

Yet, in addition, we have the presence of Barkla in and around the same parish, strong evidence for a relationship between the two names Bartla and Barkla. But Barkla seems to be more extensive than Bartla. Did Barkla evolve from Bartla or was it the other way around? If so, what does Barkla mean and does it have anything to do with Bartholomew?

Map 3: Barkla in the 1500s

And what about Bartly? (See map 2 above.) Examples of this name preceded Bartle and were spread over a somewhat wider territory. Where does this fit? If anywhere?

One thought on “Unravelling a group of Cornish surnames

  1. There is also the surname BARKLE which seems to mutate almost completely to BARTLE by the end of the 18thC in places like Gwinear and Camborne. I often wondered whether this was simply a result of the way the name sounded when being recorded in the parish registers by the clerk or vicar. In other words BARKLE was meant to be BARTLE. But then BARKLE is very close to BARKLA! However, I have numerous connections with these names but no evidence of any movement from BARKLA to BARKLE.


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