This interesting and most unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a variant of "Braithwell", a locational name from a place so called in Yorkshire, which was recorded as "Bradewelle" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Braythewelle" in the Charter Rolls of 1289. The placename itself is a Scandinavianized form of the Olde English term "bradwella", composed of the elements "brad", broad, wide, a common element in placenames, and "wella", a stream, spring, also very common in placenames. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming popular, people often took their former village name as a means of identification. There are places called Bradwell, which have the same derivation as above, in Berkshire, Suffolk and Derbyshire, from which Walter de Bradewelle (Worcestershire, 1275) took his name. Early examples include the marriage of Thomas Brothwell and Alcy Hill on June 3rd 1604, at Woolsthorpe near Grantham, Lincolnshire, and the christening of William, son of Humphrey Brothwell, also at Grantham, on January 28th 1610. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Brothwell, which was dated April 1st 1599, christened at Borden in Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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