This interesting name, contrary to appearances, has two possible origins, one the perhaps obvious English topographical or occupational one, and the other locational, from Belgium. Firstly, then, the modern surname Bridges or Brydges usually derives from the early Medieval English topographical surname for someone who lived near a bridge, or from a metonymic occupational name for a bridge keeper; building and maintaining bridges was one of the three main feudal obligations in the Middle Ages, the others being the bearing of arms when required and the maintenance of fortifications. The derivation for this source is from the Middle English 'brigge', from the Old English pre 7th Century 'brycg', bridge. The first recording of the surname from this source is that of Gilbert atte Brigge, in the 1272 Pipe Rolls of Surrey, and the 's' of the variant froms 'Bridges' and 'Brydges' indicates the genitive case, meaning 'of the bridge'. Secondly, these surnames can be locational, from the Flemish city of 'Bruges', meaning 'bridges', which had important trading links with England in the Middle Ages. The first recording below is from this source. One Edmond Bridges was an early emigrant to America, leaving London on the 'James' in July 1635 bound for New England. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bruges, which was dated 1205, The Oxfordshire Curia Rolls, during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199-1216. 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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