Recorded in several spellings including Brokenshaw and Brokenshire, this is an English surname. It is locational and originates from a place called Birkenshaw near Bradford, in West Yorkshire. The placename is recorded in the year 1274 as 'Birkenschawe', and means 'the birch grove', from the Old English pre 7th century 'bircen', an adjective formed from 'birce', birch (tree), with 'sceaga', copse, shaw, or grove. There are a number of modern surnames derived from this placename, and in most of them the 'r' is transposed, giving the vernacular (Yorkshire) pronunciation and therefore spelling of the name; Brokenshire, Brockenshaw, Brokenshaw, Bruckshaw, and Brigginshaw, with Burkinshaw, Burtonshaw, Burtenshaw and Birtenshaw. The development of the surname includes Roger Birchynshawe of London in 1408, Richard Brekynshawe of Yorkshire in 1501 and Constance Brokenshire who married John Bernard at St James church, Dukes Place, Westminster, on January 9th 1685. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William del Birkenschawe. This was dated 1274, in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. 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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