This long-established and distinguished surname is of Germany, Anglo-Saxon, and Olde English pre7th century origins. It is recorded in over fifty different spellings throughout Northern Europe, ranging from Bridge, Briggs, and Bridgeman, to Bruckner, Pruckner, and Terbrugge. It is either a topographical name for someone who lived near or on a raised causeway or bridge, or a it is an occupational nickname for a bridge keeper or toll gatherer. The derivation is from either the Olde English pre 7th Century "brycg", or Old High German "brucca or bruhke".The duties of tenants in the period between the end of the Roman Empire in Europe in about the year 460 a.d. and the end of feudalism in the 15th century, included the bearing of arms in support of the lord of the manor, the maintaining of fortifications, and most importantly the building and maintenance of roads and bridges in the vicinity. Consequently the surname was both an important and widely distributed one. The first hereditary surnames in the world were in England, and it is there that the firrst recordings are to be found. These include Nicholas de la Brugge of the city of Worcester in 1275, and William ater Bregg of the county of Sussex in 1296. One of the very first settlers in the new colony of Virginia, U.S.A. was a boy of twelve called Thomas Bridges. He was recorded as living in "James Cittie" on February 23rd 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Gilbert atte Brigge, which was dated 1272, in the "Pipe Rolls of Surrey", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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