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By David Bartle

The origin of the surname BARTLE.

A diminutive form of BARTHOLOMEW, the usage of which in Europe dates to the 13th century; it has most commonly been used as a surname in modern times. As a word per se it could have associations with the Aramaic root word barta meaning 'ploughman' and the later derived Hebrew word bartholemew that means 'hill or furrow' and (by word extension) can mean 'farmer'.

However, as a diminutive form of BARTHOLOMEW, it had become favoured as a name in Europe as a consequence of the medieval popularity of St Bartholomew. Thus, the most likely derivation for the name rather than the word can be traced to The Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 10, Verse 3, where the disciple Bartholomew is first named. According to Clarke's Commentary NT, Volume 5, by Adam Clarke: "Many are of opinion that this Hebrew individual was Nathanael, mentioned John i. 46, whose name was probably Nathanael bar Talmai, Nathanael, the son of Talmai (or Ptolemy): here, his own name is repressed, and he is called Bar Talmai, or Bartholomew, from his father.".

The Hebrew name TALMAI is derived from the Greek PTOLEMY, and bears witness to the extent to which Israel had become Hellenised by the time of Jesus.

Ptolemy is derived from Greek polemeios meaning 'aggressive' or 'warlike'. Ptolemy was the name of several Greco-Egyptian rulers of Egypt, all descendents of Ptolemy I, one of Alexander the Great's generals. It was also the name of a Greek astronomer.

By Richard A. Bartle

Although it is pretty well guaranteed that the above is one derivation of the name BARTLE, there may also be others. According to Yorkshire Surnames Series, Part One: Bradford & District by George Redmonds: "BARTLE has often been assumed to be a diminutive of BARTHOLOMEW but the Lancashire BARTLEs, who held land in Great Eccleston in 1334, almost certainly derived their name from the locality Bartle near by. The place-name has recently been explained as 'tongue of land on which barley grows'.". The explanation for the place name is given in Preston District Towns & Villages.

The earliest occurrence of a BARTLE-like name that Redmonds found for the Bradford area was William de Bartaill of Wigglesworth, mentioned in Yorkshire Fines for the year 1334.

My grandfather told me a family legend that the first of our line of BARTLEs to come to England did so with William the Conqueror, but looking at a list of William's knights this would seem unlikely..!

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle.