Recorded in a number of spellings including Brettner, Brettoner, Britner, Brittner, Brittoner and possibly others, this is an English surname of some antiquity . It refers however to a former citizen of the French region of Brittany, and is therefore locational. At various times in history Brittany has been closely associated both by trade and Celtic ethnic origins with the people of the west of the British Isles specifically Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Merchants from Brittany and the other way around, sometimes set up trading posts in these regions, and in time became naturalised citizens of that country. In the past often the easiest way to identify strangers was to call them by the name of the place from whence they came, and this surname is based upon the spelling of Breton or Brittany. The famous English book of the 13th century known as Piers Plowman includes the not wholly complimentary remark 'A Bretoner, a braggart,' and goes onto say 'He buffetted the Bretoner', suggesting that the English attitude towards those of foreign origin, has not greatly changed over the centuries! An early interesting recording appears in the lists of the Freemen of the city of York in 1452 with that of Joel Brettoner, a linen draper from Penistone in the West Riding.
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