Recorded in a number of spellings, some confusing, this is an Irish surname. It derives from the ancient Gaelic name O' Breasail, and today is usually to be found as Brazil, but also as Breslin, Brislan, Brislen, Brislane, Brislawn, and possibly others. It translates as "The male descendant of Brasal", the letter being a nickname meaning "strife", and therefore presumably was given to a warrior or at least somebody who liked to have a go! In Ireland the Breslane sept were one of the principal Brehon families, and found mainly in County Waterford, being recorded there from the year 1308. Also known as the chiefs of Fanad, they were very powerful and lived upto their name until broken in battle by the Mac Sweeneys. The name became anglicised in the 16th century and is unusual as no "z" exists in the Irish language. Early recordings include John Brisland who married Alse Hereford at St. John the Evangelist, Dublin on February 7th 1638, and Margaret,the daughter of Owen Brislan who was christened at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, Londonderry on November 24th 1667, and in London William Brizlan was christened at St. Lawrence Poutney, June 30th 1715. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mahowne Brassill. This was dated 1551, in the court records of Clonmel, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England, 1558 - 1603. 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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