Recorded as Birtle, Birtles, Bartley, Bertley, Birtley, Bortley, Burtley and possibly others, this is an English locational surname. It originates either from a place called Birtley in County Durham, first recorded in the year 1183 as Britleia, or Birtle in Lancashire, which appears as Bircel in the Assize Registers of the county in 1246. The first place means "Bright farm" from the pre 7th century "beorte-leah" and the second "Birch hill" from a fused form of "birc-hyll". Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say surnames given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. The easiest way to identify these "strangers" being to call them after their former villages even though sometimes this might be the one next door. Spelling over the centuries being at best indifferent, and local dialects very thick, often lead to the creation of "sounds like" spellings, although this surname seems to have escaped this transposition. The first spelling of the surname in any form appears to be that of Cristiana de Birchels, given as being the widow of Henry de Birchels of Cheshire in 1299, whilst Robert Birteley is recorded at Bishopwearmough, Durham, on July 22nd 1627.