If Your Name is “Barefoot”

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If your name is “Barefoot,” according to the Name Meaning and History page on Ancestry.com:

1. English: nickname for someone who was in the habit of going about his business unshod, from Old English bæra ‘bare’, ‘naked’ + fot ‘foot’. It may have referred to a peasant unable to afford even the simplest type of footwear, or to someone who went barefoot as a religious penance.

2. In some instances, probably a translation of German Barfuss, the northern form Barfoth, or the Danish cognate Barfo(e)d.

There is also another possibility. In “The East Anglian,” by Charles Harold and Evelyn White (1904), in a section on wills, the will of one Francis Barfoote was probated in 1598. In a footnote, the author adds the following:

This plebian name of Barefoot is identical with that of the aristocratic Warwickshire family of Hereford or Beresford, who held a manor in the neighbouring parish of Clopton in the fourteenth century. I have noted the following different spellings, which mark its degradation:—Bereford, Berford, Barford, Barforth, Barfoot, Barefoot.

“Beresford” means “beaver-ford”. So, just because your last name is “Barefoot” does not mean that you had an ancestor who was named that for going barefoot.

However, I can guarantee that if you go back far enough, you will find an ancestor (actually, many ancestors) who went barefoot all the time.

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2 Responses to “If Your Name is “Barefoot””

  1. vas Says:

    I really cannot imagine such poverty that a person cannot afford some kind of bast shoes or wooden clogs (like the Russian lapti or French sabot) if they wanted to (e.g. for the winter). Why, my grandfather on the father’s side still knew how to weave lapti.

  2. Jason Says:

    I would think that most people in the world with the last name ‘barefoot’ would come from the American South

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