This unusual name is of early Medieval English origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called "Bretherton" in the parish of Croston, Lancashire. Unusually, the placename has retained it's medieval spelling; it is recorded as "Bretherton" in the "Cockersand Chartulary" of 1190. The name means "the settlement belonging to the brothers or brother", derived from either the Old Norse "braethr", brother, or Old English pre 7th Century "brethra", brothers, with Old English "tun", settlement, enclosure.The modern surname is still most frequently found in Lancashire. One, Alice Bretherton was married to Edmund Willeinson on February 1st 1567, at Kirkham, in Lancashire, and Roger Bretherton married Anne Haddocke on October 8th 1598, at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Brethirton, which was dated 1397, The Preston Guild Rolls, Lancashire, during the reign of King Richard II, "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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