The Barber family of Cambridgeshire

Recorded as far back as the late 16th century - the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the Barber family have rarely strayed from home for hundreds of years.

A large piece of this research is down to the hard work of fellow researcher and distant relative Robert Whiteside (fifth cousin, twice removed!), who has spent time collecting information and transcribing wills.

The earliest date on this entire site is that of the burial of John Barber in 1589. Witcham's burial records don't appear to reach this far back, but a copy of John's will gives vital information about him, his livelihood and his family. It shows the division of his worldly pocessions ranging from money to sheets, from beds to cupboards, and details to whom each item should be given (occasionally with some conditions to be met first).

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It's easy to stumble across the Barber family when looking at the other surnames in the fenland around Ely due to the large families that they bore.

It seems that there are two ancestral Barber families, although i strongly suspect that they are in fact one and the same as they both lead me back to Witcham, Cambridgeshire. A small village sitting on a dry land hill in the fenland, just North West of Ely and close to the villages of Mepal, Wentworth and Sutton where occasional parish register entries can be spotted.

Take a look at the ancestors named on the right to begin looking in to the family. For six generations, the Barber family gave a son the first name of 'Wenham'. The origin of this name is unclear - it may have been a maternal maiden name.

The family is very large and therefore not all of the members have been added online but if you spot something common with your own genealogical research then please do not hesitate to let me know via the form on the Contact page.

Origins of the Barber surname

The Barber surname is most likely of an occupational derivation - the job of cutting hair. During the Middle Ages, a Barber may have also undertaken tooth extraction and minor surgical procedures. However, finding a link back this far would prove very difficult, and I certainly don't expect to find evidence of my ancestors cutting hair for work.

Further Information