This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any of the numerous places in England and Scotland, called Bradley. All the places share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the wide clearing or thin wood", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brad", broad, wide, with "leah", copse, glade, thin wood or clearing. There are places named with these elements in every part of England, and also in Scotland. A large number of the English places are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Bradelei, Bradelea" and "Bradelie". Locational surnames were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Bradley, Bradly, Bratley and Bratly. The surname was first recorded in Scotland in 1291, when John de Bradely rendered homage at Berwick. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Richard Bratley and Elizabeth Collins on January 1st 1645, at St. Martin Orgar and St. Clement, Eastcheap, and the marriage of Susannah Bratley and Amos Biddulph on November 21st 1779, at St. Dunstan's in the East. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradelai, which was dated 1170, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder or Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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