Brimley and Bremley are English locational surnames. Deriving from the pre 7th century ''brom'' meaning broom or prickly bush, and ''leah'' - a clearing in a forest, it is also found in other places names and surnames such as Bramley and Bromley. The surname probably originates from either of the two ''diminished'' villages called Higher and Lower Brimley, near the ancient town of Newton Abbot in the county of Devonshire, or from a ''lost'' village - of which the surname is the only reminder. ''Diminished villages'' are those that were known to be larger or more prominent in medieval times, and from where inhabitants were forced from their homes usually on grounds of economy, when the lands were turned over from labour intensive arable farming - to sheep, which required relatively few. When this happened, and it happened regularly between the 15th and the 19th centuries, people left for other places taking as their surname, the name of their former home. A large number appear to have crossed England, and settled in the county of Essex on the edge of the city of London. Indeed today almost every Brimley found in England lives in Essex! At some point in time others went to North America, where at least one place called Brimley was established - in Michigan. The first recording that we have been able to clearly establish although there are certain to be earlier ones in unpublished wills and deeds, is that of Tobias Bremley at St Botolphs church, city of Colchester, county of Essex, on December 119th 1585. In the city of London, John Brimley or Brmley, married Joan Haword, - clearly the clerk was having a bad spelling day, - on May 10th 1601, at the church of St Mary Woolnoth.
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