Chapter 1.0

Early Bramhill History

By Will Bramhill

The Name

Family names came into being in England in the 12th and13th centuries when people needed to differentiate one family from another.

The Bramhill name is likely to be derived from brom plus haugh, meaning "dweller by the broom-covered nook".

There is a strong possibility, put forward by David Hey in his book 'Family Names and Family History', that Bramhill is a locational surname and that our ancestors were linked with the town of Bramhall, Cheshire, nowadays a suburb of the English city of Manchester.

Variants of the Bramhill name include Bramill, Brumill, Brummill, Bram(m)all, Bram(m)ah, Bramwell, Bremhell, Brameld, Bramald, Brammar, Brammer and Bramhall.

Anyone tracing their family tree should keep an open mind on the spelling; it is fair bet it was spelled differently just 200 years ago. The spelling often changed with the generations, local pronunciation or fashion. Names have been spelt differently even within the same document especially as many people were illiterate, and clerks were not fussy about their spelling. David Hey says the "h" of Bramhill was silent until the middle of the 1700s - but some Liverpool Bramhills still don't sound the "h".

If we keep to the one spelling of Bramhill, today's Bramhills can usually trace their roots to Liverpool and Yorkshire/Lincolnshire, while Bramhalls predominate in Manchester.

One theory which may or may not be true is that the name is Dutch. Some Epworth Bramhills believed the family came across from the Netherlands when the Fens were drained. Certainly there was a Juliana de Bramholle in Manchester in the 1500s, and Bram is a common Dutch name, usually as a derivative of Abraham. "Bremer" and "Bremmer" are listed in the Dutch phone book. If the Bramhill name is a corruption of a Dutch word, it could have been Braamheuvel (blackberry hill), although this does not appear to be a modern-day Netherlands surname


Olden days

 Bramhill - The Surname

The earliest record of a variant of the Bramhill surname is in Worcestershire in 1221 when a Robert de Bramhal is recorded in the Assize Rolls. England at the time was ruled by the 14-year-old Henry III, son of John, the Magna Carta king.

In 1543, a Thomas Brammall is recorded in the Sheffield Manorial Records.

In 1602, arms were granted by a Segar Norroy to John Bramhall, alderman of Pontefract, Yorkshire.


Bramhill - The Place Name

Bramhill, or rather Bromhulle, as a place name is found as early as 891 AD. The Dictionary of Old English project at the University of Toronto found this quote in the Guide To Anglo-Saxon Charters by P.N. Sawyer (London, 1968)

"Thanen over whetecombe on alden doune op bi wirtrone on an rewe dich. Thanen a doun over yfre thanen out on "bromhulle" of "bromhulle" eft on Ruanberghe."

The passage relates to a grant of land in Buckland Newton, Dorset, by Alfred the Great to Beorhtwulf "his faithful".

Possibly the same Bromhulle is mentioned in "Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society" by S.B. Grundy, 1933, pages 239 to 268. It uses old English to refer to Broomhill, a projecting bastion on the north side of Church Hill, Watcombe (Whetecombe).

So You Want To Know About The Bramhills?

If your surname is Bramhill, then your family probably has roots in Lancashire, Cheshire, Lincolnshire or Yorkshire, England. The family name is possibly Saxon, and is believed to have emerged in Cheshire, England, in the 1200s. The meaning of the name is likely to be broom plus hill, i.e.; our ancestors lived on the broom-covered hill. A well-to-do town in Cheshire, nowadays a suburb of the English city of Manchester, is called Bramhall. There may be a link to the family name.

Variants of the Bramhill name include Bramall, Bramwell and Bramhall (the spelling often changed with the generations, especially as many people could neither read nor write).

It is almost certainly fiction, but the UK firm, Hall of Names, lists the Bramhill coat of arms as "black with a gold lion rampant", it gives the crest as a gold lion, and a family motto as "Sanguine Christe Tuo".

Bramhills are known to live in these UK counties: Merseyside, Lancashire, Humberside, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Essex, Suffolk.

Bramhills are also known to live in these countries: Canada, USA, New Zealand, South Africa.


Bramhills of the Past

 Bishop Bramhall - Pontefract in the 1200s

 John Bramhall - mayor of Pontefract in 1502

 John Bramhall - bishop of Ripon, in the mid 1500s

 Bramhill family - single mention in Warwickshire authoress George Elliot's "The Sad Fortunes of The Reverend Amos Barton", chapter six, when Mr. Ely asks Mr. Fellowes: "By the by, do you know who is the man to whom Lord Watling has given the Bramhill living?"

 Bramwell family - instrumental in setting up Salvation Army

 Field Marshal Edwin Bramall - led British Army in 1970s.

 John Bramhill of Kansas: Left Epworth, Lincolnshire in 1828, settling in Wisconsin and Waterloo Township, Kansas. Two sons, One daughter. I can supply more detail. See also John Quanz, Canada (Links to today's Bramhills).

 ? Bramhill: belonged to early radio enthusiasts group in Oxford, UK, in 1930s. Source: Internet.

 F.B. Bramhill: wrote anthology on carrier systems for data transmission for information of Western Union personnel. Paper now in Western Union Telegraph Co Collection 1848-1963, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute.

 George Garland Bramhill, grandson of George and Ann Bramhill, was involved with agricultural organisation in Canada in 1920.


For further information from Will look at his website at


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