This interesting and ancient surname, of Old French origin, derives from the Old French "Bret", nominative of "Breton", a Breton, from the Latin "Britto", corresponding to the Old Celtic "Britto", and was originally given as an ethnic name to someone from Brittany. The Bretons were early Celtic-speakers, and inhabitants of South West England, known as Britons, who in the 6th Century were largely dispossessed by Anglo-Saxon invaders and driven as refugees to North West France. Five centuries later, some of the Bretons re-entered England as part of William the Conqueror's invading army in 1066. One Edward Brit was noted in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Devonshire, and a Walter Bret appears in the 1164 Staffordshire Chartulary. The variation between "i" and "e" points to the Olde English "Brit, Bret", which meant a Briton, and was used to denote a member of one of the Celtic-speaking peoples of Strathclyde until circa 1300. Ranulph Brito or le Breton (died 1246) was canon of St. Paul's, and treasurer to the king. The surname is recorded in English Church Registers under the variant spellings Brittoy, Brittaux, Bretta and Brytoe. Salomon Brittaux was christened at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, London, on May 27th 1660, and on December 25th 1687, the marriage of Rachel Britto to John Powell took place at St. James', Duke's Place, also in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tihellus Brito, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Essex, during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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