Recorded in spellings which include Brake, Break, Braik, and the plurals Breaks and Braiks, this interesting name is of Old English pre 7th century origins. It is topographical for someone who lived by a piece of land that was newly cultivated, or perhaps in contradiction, a place which was well established with protective fencing or woods! The derivation in either case is from the word 'braec', a derivative of 'brecan', which means 'to break', and hence prepare the land. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since features in the landscape provided easily recognisable reference points for distinguishing people in the small communities of medieval England. The early records include a wide variety of spelling examples such as Peter de la Brece of Suffolk in 1248, Peter de Brach in Surrey in 1248, and John de Brake in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk in 1275. Later examples include William Breakes whose daughter Mary was christened at St Boltolphs without Aldgate, in the city of London, on January 31st 1635, and Mary Braik who married Nicholas Bond at the church of St Mary-leBone, also in the city of London, on March 2nd 1772. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de la Brake, which was dated 1176, in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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