This interesting English surname is of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins. It is topographical and describes someone who lived by a piece of land that was newly cultivated. The derivation is from the word 'braec', a derivative of the ancient 'brecan', and meaning 'to break', and thus by implication to describe land 'broken' by the plough or possibly land cleared of forestry and used for grazing. With only a small population estimated at two or three million, the need for new agricultural lands would not have been great. However this changed after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and the development of the major monasteries, who were the land developers of their day and equally ruthless. Residential and topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since either natural or man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable terms for distinguishing people in the small communities of medieval England. The modern surname can be found as Bracher, Brasher, Bratcher, Breacher, Brecher and Britcher. Early examples of the the name recordings taken from surviving church registers of the period include Isaac Bracher, who married Johan or Joan Best, at St Augustine's church, Watling Street, London, on May 1st 1575, Mary Britcher, who married Robert Davies at Maidstone, Kent, on November 24th 1630, and Sarah Brasher, the daughter of Abraham Brasher, christened at St Olave's church, Southwark, London, on June 7th 1640. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Robert le Brechere, which was dated 1245, in the register of Oseney Abbey, Oxfordshire. This was during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216-1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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