Recorded in many spelling forms including Bickerstaff, Bickerstaffe, Bickerstasse, Bickersteth, and Bicksteth, this an English locational surname. It originates from Bickerstaffe, a medieval diminshed village in the parish of Ormskirk, Lancashire. The derivation is from the pre 7th century words "beocere" meaning a beekeeper and "steth" a landing place. The placename is first recorded as Bikerstad in the Cockersand Chartulary of 1190. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century, (see below), and early recordings include Henry Bekerstaff in the Calendar of Inquisitiones Post Mortem in 1397. Early examples of church recordings include James Bickersteth who was christened on October 12th 1600, and Roger Bickerstaff who was christened on August 13th 1604, both in Ormskirk, Lancashire. Robert Bickersteth (1816-1884) was the bishop of Ripon in 1857. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de Birkestad. This was dated 1246, in the Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England 1216 - 1272. 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.