This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a metonymic occupational name for a maker of breech-girdles, that is a maker of belts for holding up breeches, from the Olde English pre 7th Century, Middle English "brec" (Old French "braie"), breeches, with the Olde English "gyrdel", a girdle, belt. The surname is particularly widespread in the county of Lancashire. It is a good example of the interesting group of medieval job-descriptive surnames, which originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary.The first recorded namebearer appears in London in the late 13th Century (see below), while other early examples of the surname include John Brachgyrdyll, Brecchegirdle in the Register of the University of Oxford in 1544, and Roger Brachegirdle, Brasgirdell, mentioned in the same source in 1556. Anne Bracegirdle (1663 - 1748) was one of the most prominent actresses of her time, appearing at the Theatre Royal in 1688. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name in Cheshire depicts two silver chevrons arched, couched and fretted on a blue shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Brigerdler, which was dated 1281, in the "Letter Books of the City of London", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.
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