This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any of the numerous places in England and Scotland, called Bradley. All the places share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the wide clearing or thin wood", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brad", broad, wide, with "leah", copse, glade, thin wood or clearing. There are places named with these elements in every part of England, and also in Scotland. A large number of the English places are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Bradelei", "Bradelea", and "Bradelie". The surname is first recorded in Scotland in 1291, when John de Bradely rendered homage at Berwick. The English astronomer James Bradley (1693 - 1762) was born in Gloucestershire into a family that can be traced back to Bradley Castle near Wolsingham in County Durham. Among the recordings of the name in London Church Registers is that of the marriage of John Bradley and Annis Whitby at St. Dunstan in the East, on April 9th 1564. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradelai, which was dated 1170, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder or 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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