Recorded in the spellings of Bracknell, Bracknall, Brecknell and Brecknall, this surname is English. It is definately residential, and almost certainly originates from the town of Bracknell in the county of Berkshire. If not, then the origination is probably from a now "lost" medieval village called in Olde English "Bracenhalh" or similar, meaning the place where the bracken grows. Some three thousand surnames of the British Isles are known to originate from "lost" places, of which the only reminder in the 20th century is the surname itself, often as with this one, in a variety of spellings. The reason for suggesting the lost village option, is that the surname is rarely if ever recorded in Berkshire itself. Research suggests that it was almost exclusively recorded before the year 1850, in the diocese of Greater London. Locational surnames are by their nature often "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homestead to move elsewhere. However "elsewhere" was often the next village, and it is rare not to find some recognition of a name in what was apparently its Berkshire "birthplace". Examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving church registers of Greater London include: Sarah Brecknell who married Robert Furness at St Benets church, Pauls Wharf, on December 14th 1728, Benjamin Bracknell, who was a witness at St James church, Garlickhithe, on September 15th 1731, and William and Elizabeth Brecknall, who were witnesses at St. Pancras Old Church, on March 18th 1838.
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