This unusual surname is the English North Midlands diminutive form of the English and French surname "Brett". It originally derived from the Old French pre 10th century "bret" and is or was an ethnic name for a Breton or a Celt. The Bretons were originally Celtic speakers who were driven out of England (except for Cornwall) in the 6th century, but who gained their revenge in the 1066 invasion when the "Bretons" formed a brigade (in modern terms) of the Norman army. These later "Bretts" were rewarded with large land grants particularly in East Anglia. Curiously though many "Bretts" are found in South West Scotland (the former kingdom of Strathclyde), whilst Brettell, Brettle and Brittle(s) are generally English although when found as "Bretel", the origin is usually French. The latter form is found in the 1086 Domesday Book for Cornwall, although this is a name, not a surname. Later surname recordings include John Brutel of Oxford in 1235, whilst Richard Brittellis is recorded at St. Mathew's church, Friday Street, London on June 16th 1555, in the reign of Queen Mary 1, (Bloody Mary) 1554 - 1558. On August 25th 1799, Joshua Brittle married Anne Hollis at Manchester Cathedral, it is believed that their son was called Thomas, born in 1801. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Bretel, which was dated 1169, in the Pipe Rolls of Huntingdon, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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