This interesting surname of English origin with variant spellings Bickerstaff, Bickerstaffe, Bickersteth, Bicksteth, etc., is a locational name from a minor place called Bickerstaffe in the parish of Ormskirk, Lancashire, deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century "beocere" meaning "beekeeper" plus "steth" "landing place". The placename is recorded as Bikerstad in the Cockersand Chartulary of 1190. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one Henry Bekerstaff (1397) "Calendar of Inquisitiones Post Mortem". Church recordings include one James, son of Thomas Bickersteth who was christened on October 12th 1600, and Roger, son of John Bikersteth was christened on August 13th 1604, both in Aughton by Ormskirk, Lancashire. One Robert Bickersteth (1816-1884) was Bishop of Ripon; he graduated from Queens College, Cambridge (1841), was honourary secretary of Irish church missions (1850), Canon residentiary and treasurer, Salisbury Cathedral (1854) and bishop of Ripon (1857). He gained a considerable reputation as an evangelical preacher. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de Birkestad, which was dated 1246, in the Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.