This is a very old surname and quite rare considering its long life. It is almost certainly locational deriving either from the village of Brace in Shropshire as in the first recording below, or from the "now" lost hamlets with the same meaning. It is very unlikely that the name has the slightest connection with "brass ware". The origin is almost certainly the Olde English "braec", a word describing a thicket or small wood or possibly the later 8th century Anglo Saxon "braec" (with long vowels), translating as an area of ground broken up for cultivation. There is a possibility that some nameholders may derive from the Post Norman "Bevis" and later "Braose" or "Bruce", as in the Domesday record of Robert de Bruis of Brix in La Manche, Normandy being a follower of considerable estates in Yorkshire. Early recordings include the following examples Thomas Braz of Somerset in 1274 (Kirby's Quest), Willelmus Brasse in the 1379 Poll Tax Rolls of Howdenshire (now part of Yorkshire) and Juliana Bras of York (a widow) also in the Poll Tax Rolls. One of the earliest emigrants to the new American Colonies (Virginia), was Alice Brass aged 15, who sailed on the "Constance" of London on October 24th 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Bras, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Salop (Shropshire), during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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