This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and firstly may be a locational name from a place called Birch in Essex, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bryce" meaning breaking; hence, cultivated land, or from Birch Much and Little in Herefordshire, from the Olde English "birce", meaning birch. Secondly, it may be a topographical name for someone who lived by a birch tree or a birch wood, from the Olde English "birce". The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Richard de Birches (1246), in the Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire; Ralph atte Birche (1275); and Richard del Birche (1275), both in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Jonathan, son of John and Katherine Burch, on October 27th 1639, at St. Botolph without Aldgate, and the christening of Beniamin Burch on May 9th 1646, at St. Leonard's, Bishopsgate. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a black shield, a fesse between three silver birch leaves. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de la Birche, which was dated circa 1182, in the "Studies on Middle English Local Surnames", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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.