This is an ancient English locational surname which can also be found as Brittle!. It originates from the village of Brightwell in the county of Berkshire or possibly from Brightwell in the county of Suffolk. Oddly the first known recordings are from neither of these places, which have the meaning of "clear spring". The first appears in the charter known as the Testa de Neville, for Wiltshire in 1272, a year which can be either in the reign of King Henry 111rd (1216 - 1272), or that of Edward 1st, (1272 - 1307). This recording is given as being that of Robert de Brichwell whilst in the following year but in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Northamptonshire, we have the recording of Simon de Bricchtewell. Locational surnames were those given either to the local lord of the manor, or more usually to people who had moved away from their original homes but thereafter for easy identication, were called after them. Spelling being at best rudimentary, lead to the creation as with this surname of "sounds like" spellings. Later examples from surviving church registers include Benjamin Brightwell of the village of Kensington in 1675, and Hannah Brightwell who married Edward Bailey at St Georges Chapel, Hanover Square, Westminster, in 1806.
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