THE BRACEWELL NAME
The Bracewell story begins in Northwestern England. A village called Bracewell is located in what was West Yorkshire County, or “the west ridings of Yorkshire”, according to our early family historical researchers. Recently the government redrew county lines and Bracewell wound up in Lancashire County. It is about 50 miles due north of Manchester. The countryside is rolling hills, and has beautiful grassy meadows making it dairy and hay country.
The focal point of this village is a small church that is very old. We have a copy of the church history showing it founded in the 1100s. The book was given to us by Harry Bracewell who lives in Barnoldswick, located just two miles south of Bracewell. According to that history all the lands around Bracewell were granted to a Norman named Henry Tempest, as his reward for participating in, or supporting the Norman conquest of England at the Battle of Hastings (far south of Bracewell) in 1066. As part of his occupation King William sent Catholic monks to establish new churches throughout the more remote parts of England.
The church in Bracewell was first a chapel and over the years was built into a parish church. The Tempest family provided the funding for the church from its founding. Under King Henry VIII this and all other churches became Church of England (Episcopal). Members of the Tempest family still live in the area and maintain their ties with this church.
There are many Bracewells in the area, and a number of the gravestones in the churchyard identify Bracewells who lived there many years ago. It is obvious that the Bracewells originated in this area, and that the people were named for the area rather than the place being named for the people who lived there. Experts in name origins believe the area was named for BRAGE WELLS, “Wells” referring to water “welling up”, or springs. “Brage” may have referred to bracken, or brushy.
The first written reference to persons named Bracewell is in the “Domesday Book”, which was a listing, or census, of all the people in England. The census was ordered by King William in 1086.
I have checked telephone books in a number of large cities in England and the Bracewell name is not common in England now.
The next reference we have of the Bracewells is in church records showing Bracewells in London.