This interesting surname is of French origin, and is an ethnic name for a Breton. The Bretons were originally Celts driven from South West England to North West France in the 6th Century by invading Anglo-Saxons. Some returned with the army of William the Conqueror in the Invasion of 1066, and many of those then settled in East Anglia where the English surname Brett is now widespread. Occasionally, the name may derive from the Celtic speaking people of Strathclyde, Scotland, who were known as "Bryttas" or "Brettas" until the 13th Century. In the modern idiom the variants include: Britt, Breton, Bretton and De Brett (of Breton). Amongst the early recordings in London is the marriage of William Brett and Johanna Hayward in 1559, and in Norfolk, of Richard Brett and Elizabeth Leive on September 23rd 1552, at St. George's, Colegate, Norwich. A Coat of Arms granted to a Brett family is silver, on a blue chevron three bezants. The Crest is a silver lion's gamb erect and erased grasping a wolf's head erased proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edward Brit, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Devon, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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