This name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any one of the places called 'Bradshaw' in Lancashire, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, and elsewhere in northern counties. The surname is found most frequently in Lancashire. The place in Lancashire is recorded as 'Bradeshaghe' in 1246, and means 'the broad, extensive grove or thicket', derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'brad', meaning 'broad, wide', with 'sceaga', 'thicket, grove, small wood, grove'. In the modern idiom the surname has several variants including Brayshaw, Brashaw, Bradshaw and Brayshaw. Locational names were given especially to those former inhabitants of a place who left to live in another area. John Bradshaw (1602 - 1659), a London judge, was lord president of the parliamentary commission for Charles 1's trial in 1649 and was one of the signatories of his death warrant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradesaghe, witness, which was dated 1246, in the Lancashire Assize Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as the Frenchman, 1216 - 1272. 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.