This uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a rare variant form of the more familiar surname Bradley, a locational name deriving from any one of the numerous places so called throughout England. These places, in Berkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, among other counties, are most recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 in such forms as "Bradeleg(e), Braidelei, Bradelie" and "Bradeleia"; all share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the broad wood or glade", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brad", broad, and "leah", thin wood, glade, clearing in a wood. Locational surnames were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere; regional dialectal differences and varying standards of literacy subsequently gave rise to variant spellings of the original name. In this instance, the modern surname forms range from Bradl(e)y and Bratl(e)y, to Bradlaugh and Broad(e)ly. One Godfrey Bradlaugh is listed in the Suffolk Subsidy Rolls of 1568, and the christening of Christiana, daughter of Alexander Bradlaw, was recorded in Whitgift, Yorkshire, on December 23rd 1580. In Suffolk, where this form of the name is chiefly found, the marriage of Thomas Bradlaugh and Martha Shepherd was recorded on July 28th 1772, in Brandeston. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Bradlawe, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Derbyshire", 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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