This ancient and distinguished surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the places so called, large and small; in particular the city of Bradford in West Yorkshire, which was originally a wool town. There are others in Derbyshire, Devonshire, Dorset, Greater Manchester, Norfolk, Somerset, and elsewhere. They all take their names from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brad" meaning broad, plus "ford", ford. During the Middle Ages when it was increasingly common for people to migrate from their birthplace to seek work further afield, the custom developed that they would adopt the placename as a means of identification. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include: Brun de Bradford (1219) in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire, and Thomas de Bradforth (1358) in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York. Church Records list the christening of John Bradford at St. Paul's, London in 1520, and of William Bradford in Austerfield, Yorkshire in 1560. A Coat of Arms granted to a Bradford family is silver, a wolf's head erased between three black buglehorns. The Crest is a peacock's head proper, in the mouth a green snake entwined round the neck. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander de Bradeford, which was dated 1206, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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