Coat of Arms: A blue shield displaying two silver chevrons. Crest: A girdle
Bracewell is an Anglo-Saxon surname which has survived the rigorous course of history to the present day. Emerging from the shadows of time, the records reveal the earliest origins of this distinguished family. Historians have researched such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book compiled in 1086 A.D., by Duke William of Normandy, the Ragman Rolls(1291-1296) collected by King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, the Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents. Researchers found the first record of the name Bracewell in Yorkshire, where they were seated from ancient times.
Your name, Bracewell, occurred in many manuscripts and from time to time the surname was spelt Bracewell, Braycewell, Brasswell, Brasewell, with these changes in spelling occurring, even between father and son. In the 16th century even literate people such as William Shakespeare varied the spelling of their own names. There are many reasons for these spelling variations, for instance official court languages such as Latin and French had their influence on how a name was recorded. In general, church officials and scribes recorded a name as it was told to them, rather than follow any spelling rules or conventions.
The Anglo-Saxon tribes produced many surnames such as Bracewell. These founding cultures settled in England in about the 5th century A.D., displacing the ancient Britons who populated the area in Roman times. The Angles and the Saxons established several independent kingdoms, Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, Kent, Essex, Sussex and East Anglia, collectively known as the Heptarchy. All of these rival kingdoms were unified in the 9th century by Egbert, King of Wessex.
In 1066, the relative peace which the country had been existing under was shattered. The Norman invasion from France and their victory at the Battle of Hastings meant that many Anglo-Saxon landholders lost their property to Duke William and his invading nobles. Under oppressive Norman rule many families decided to move north to Yorkshire and beyond the border to Scotland.
The Bracewell family emerged as notable Englishmen in the county of Yorkshire, where the name is associated with the village of Bracewell in the west riding of the county. In the Domesday Book survey of 1086 Bracewell was recorded as lands held by Roger le Poitevin. Gilbert de Braycewell was registered in Yorkshire in 1251, Early in the history of the family name it branched to Lincolnshire, where John de Bracewell was recorded in 1273. The family in Yorkshire included several prominent landholders during the Middle Ages, such as Willelmus de Braycewell who was living there in 1379. From the late Middle Ages through to the industrial revolution the family was witness to a chain of historical events which remade the face of England. The 14th century was a time of social upheaval marked by the spread of the Black Death and a peasant rebellion led by Wat Tyler. The next century was dominated by the War of the Roses, which pitted the red rose of the House of Lancaster against the white rose of the House of York in a bitter struggle over control of the crown. By the I500s, however, England was a state in transition from mediaeval to modem organization and it emerged as the leading naval power in the world. But political discord erupted during the 17th century as the English Civil War between the Crown (Cavaliers) and Parliament (Roundheads) shook the nation before it entered the industrial age. During these turbulent times the family name was established in London, where George Brasswell married Margaret Milliter in 1610. Robert Bracewell married Grace Toller in London in 1616. Distinguished members of the family at this time include John de Bracewell, a prominent 13th century landholder in Lincolnshire.
Throughout the Middle Ages the Bracewell family flourished and contributed to English society. Later, during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was devastated by religious and political conflict. Conflicts between religious sects and between parliamentary and royalist forces created an unstable society. Many families were banished by the prevailing powers for dissention, other families chose to leave the turmoil behind.
In Ireland, Protestant settlers and soldiers in Cromwell's army were granted lands which had been confiscated from the native Catholic owners. No record of this family migrating to Ireland was found, however this does not preclude the possibility of individual migration. There are currently over 49 Bracewell families in Canada, 26 of which reside in British Columbia.
Upheaval at home forced some families to risk the perilous journey to the New World in order that they might build a better future for themselves. Members of the Bracewell family were among the settlers who boarded ships bound for Canada, the United States, Australia and the other colonies held by the British crown.
Settlers bearing the surname Bracewell, or a variable spelling of that family name include a number of settlers who arrived by the 19th century.
Many migrants chose Canada as their destination after the British conquered the territory in 1763. But large numbers of English speaking migrants did not arrive in Canada until the American War of Independence. The Bracewell family has continued to produce distinguished individuals such as Ronald Bracewell, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University and author.