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History of the Barney Family

Most researchers agree that the name BARNEY came from the small town of Berney (pronounced "Barney," and usually spelled Barney today) in Norfolk Co., England. Many have said the name is Norman, possibly derived from the norse BJARNE, meaning "Bear".

The earliest BARNEY Coat of Arms, shown left, was found on a handwritten heraldic pedigree of the Bernye family of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, England, dating back to about 1100 A.D. to Sir Henry de Bernye, Knight, the son of Roger de Barnye of Norfolk County. Roger de Barnye, or perhaps his father, is presumed to have accompanied Duke William of Normandy when the Duke met King Harold at a well-known social gathering on a broad field near Hastings in 1066.

The Berney/Barney family of Norfolk eventually became one of the wealthiest families in England. Sir Thomas de Berney, Knight, married Margaret, daughter and heir of William de Reedham, by whom he acquired, with other lands, the Manor of Reedham, whither he moved from Witchingham in the time of Edward III. His descendant, Henry Berney removed the old seat of the family, which stood near Reedham Church, into the Park in Reedham, where he erected a magnificent mansion, and called it "Park Hall, in Reedham." His eldest son, Sir Thomas Berney, Knight, was the Sheriff of Norfolk in the 7th year of the reign of James I. His son, Sir Richard Berney, High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1622, was created a Baronet on May 5, 1620. His descendant, Sir Thomas Reedham Berney, is the 10th Baronet.

The first Barney to arrive in the new world was Jacob Barney Sr., who sailed from England in about 1630, and became a very prominent member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Salem. He was a Selectman on the Salem Town Council for many terms, and also a Deputy to the Massachusetts General Court during his public career which spanned several decades. He was one of the judges at the trial of Roger Williams, who later was the founder of the new colony of Rhode Island. We believe that Jacob Barney was the son of Edward Barney of Bradenham, Buckinghamshire.

In 1694, a 14-year-old boy named William Barney arrived in Baltimore; he is said to have been sent from England by his Uncle and guardian. From what place he came, as well as his parentage, is yet to be established. He married into a prominent family, and became a wealthy landowner at an early age. His grandson was the famous Commodore Joshua Barney, naval hero of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

In researching the genealogy of the Barney family in America, another -- so far unconnected -- Barney family was found in New England. Thomas and Daniel Barney are discovered as adults in Concord, Massachusetts by 1690; their origin is unknown, but they are probably great-grandchildren of the first Jacob Barney of Salem. There are descendants of several other Barney progenitors also -- some from Canada (originally the French name Bernier), some from Ireland, some from Germany, and others from England


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