This is a locational surname. It can be English, Scottish or Welsh. It may originate from the village of Brecon in the former county of Breconshire or Brecknockshire, East Wales, or from the village of Bracken in Yorkshire, or the town of Brechin in Tayside, Scotland. The English and Welsh origins are probably the same from the Olde English pre 5th century word "braecan", which does mean bracken. The town in Scotland is from the Olde English word "breac", a break or new arable land, and the diminutive suffix "-in"; hence "A patch of new arable land".It is also possible that for some name holders the origin is from the Gaelic O 'Breacain, meaning "a male descendant of Breacan", a personal name translating as freckled or speckled! Early examples of the surname recordings include Magister Hugh de Breychin who witnessed a confirmation by Symon Loccard in Scotland in the year 1180, whilst in Swansea in the year 1292 and then written as Sweynssaye, we have the recording of Nicholas de Brachan. In the surviving registers of the county of Yorkshire we have the recording of Mary Brecken who married John Green on June 19th 1715 at Middleton by Pickering. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ysaac de Brechyn. This was dated 1178, during the reign of King William, known as "The Lion" of Scotland", 1165 - 1214. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often known as the 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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