This interesting name is of English locational origin from either of two places in Cumberland called Branthwaite, the one near Workington and the other near Caldbeck. The former was first recorded as Bromthweit in the 1210, Curia Regis Rolls of that County and the latter as Braunthwait in the 1332, Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland. Both places are so called from the Old English pre 7th Century "brom" meaning broom, plus "thwaite", a forest clearing, hence, "broom-covered clearing". Recordings of the surname from the 1379, "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", include: Robert Brownthwayt and Thomas de Brainwayt. One, Simon Branwithe was entered in "The Register of the Freemen of York City" in 1523. Interesting bearers of the name were Peregrine Branwhite (1745-1795), a poet who conducted a school at Lavenham, Suffolk, and Nathan Branwhite, painter and engraver, who exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1802 and 1825. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de Braunthwait, 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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