This interesting surname is of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins. It is locational from any one of the places called Bradshaw in the various counties of Lancashire, Derbyshire, and West Yorkshire, although the centre of most frequently occuring name recordings is Lancashire. There the place is first recorded as Bradeshaghe in 1246, and means the broad grove, the derivation being from the Olde English word 'brad', meaning broad or wide, with 'sceaga', a thicket or grove. In the modern idiom the surname has several variants including Brayshaw, Brashaw, Bradshaw and Brayshaw. Locational names were generally given either to the local lord of the manor or more often to those former inhabitants of a place who went to live in another area. The easiest way to identify such strangers being to call them by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic, soon lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. Amongst the many famous name holders was John Bradshaw (1602 - 1659). He was a High Court judge, and lord president of the parliamentary commission at the trial of King Charles 1st in 1649. He was also a regicide, being one of the signatories of the death warrant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradesaghe, and dated 1246, in the Lancashire Assize Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. 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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