Recorded as Bridal, Bridle, Bridel, Bridell and possibly others, this is an English surname. Of pre 8th century origins it is almost certainly occupational for a 'bridelsmyth', a maker of bits and bridles for horses and one who worked in both leather and metal. There is also a possiblity that in some instances the spelling may be a dialectal version of Bridewell. This translates literally as 'The brides spring,' and there are at least three places in Englansd so-called being Bridewell in the city of London, Bridewell in Devonshire and Bridwell Springs inh the county of Wiltshire. It is possible that these places refer to a pagan fertility right, or to ownership or even a dowry based upon ownership of a spring or well. Early examples of recordings in surviving church registers include Elinor Bridell in the city of London on May 30th 1566, Johanna Briddle of Chelsea on June 14th 1591, and John Bridle of Dorset, a supporter of the duke of Monmouth in 1685. He was sentenced by the dreaded Judge Jeffreys to ten years hard labour in the West Indies following thr battle of Sedgemoor. A coat of arms associated with the surname has blazon of a silver shield charged with a gold bridle. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Bridel. This was dated 1196, and recorded in the register of the freeman of the city of Leicester, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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