This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse origin, is an English and Scottish locational name from any one of the five places called "Brackenrigg" in Cumberland or from "Brackenrig" in the old barony of Avondale in Lanarkshire, now part of the Strathclyde region. The placename means the "bracken-covered ridge" deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "braecen" (Old Norse "braekni") meaning bracken, with "rigg" ("hryggr") a ridge. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in England in the 14th Century (see below). In Scotland, one Johannes Brakanrig is recorded as sergeant of the upper barony of Renffrew in 1454, and Robert Brakenrig witnessed a letter of reversion in 1504. The surname is also found in the variant spellings Braikenridge, Breckenridge and Brekonridge. In August 1719, William, son of Thomas Breckenridge and Janet Main, was christened in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas de Bracanrig, which was dated 1332, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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