Recorded as Brisly, Brisley, Brislee and no doubt others, this is an English surname. It is locational from the village of Brisley in the County of Norfolk. First recorded as Bruselea in the year 1105, and later in 1199 as Brisele, the derivation is from the ancient words 'briosa-legh' meaning the place (legh) infested by gad flies! Norfolk in East Anglia, being in the main fen country and low lying, was a natural source of insect life, but they must have been a major pest to have a village named after them. Before the 14th century little agricultural draining was carried out, but when it happened it is perhaps not surprising that East Anglia was the region chosen. As a result Brisley lost its flies, or most of them. The surname however is well recorded both in Norfolk itself and during the same period of the 16th century, London. This suggests that the village may have been "cleared" during this time to facilitate sheep farming, and most of the inhabitants driven off to seek their futures elsewhere. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include: Edward Brisleye, the son of John Brisleye, christened at St Peters church, Cornhill, in the city of London, on June 14th 1540, during the reign of King Henry V111 of England, and Thomas Brisley, who married Bridget Graye at St Giles church, Norwich, county of Norfolk, on May 1st 1606.
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