Recorded in several forms as shown below, this is an Anglo-German surname which means the same in both countries, and often shares the same spellings. It is topographical for a dweller by a single birch tree or sometimes a birch wood. The derivation is from the pre 7th century word "birce". The birch tree is characterized by having small leaves, white bark, and a fragrant odour, and was used in making furniture as well as in housing. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In the modern idiom the surname has a number of spellings including Bark, Barkes, Barks, Barke, and Barg. Recordings of the surname from various registers include: the marriage of Hanss and Reineke Bark on September 7th 1628, at Detmold, Lippe, Germany; and the christening of John Bark, at St. Dunstan's Stepney, in the city of London, on May 27th 1654. The coat of arms most associated with the family depicts a blue shield charged with a chevron between three crescents, all gold. An early recording is that of Wihlms Aydams Barg, and dated 1586, at Graach, Rheinland, Germany, during the reign of Rudolf 11nd of the Holy Roman (German) Empire, 1576 - 1612. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.