This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and despite its appearance as a nickname, may be either a topographical or a locational surname, in both cases found particularly in Devonshire. It may have been a topographical name given to someone who lived "by the wide place where barley, or corn was grown", from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "brad", wide, and "bere", barley, corn. The name may also have derived from a lost village, composed of the same Olde English elements. One of the prime causes for the disappearance of an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets from Britain was the enforced "clearing" of the former inhabitants from the place to make way for sheep pastures, at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Early examples of the surname include the marriage of John Brodbeare and Joan Mayhne on February 13th 1586; and the marriage of Christian Brodebeare and William Serell, on September 23rd 1605, at Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire. The christening of Ruthe, daughter of John Brodbeere, took place on August 8th 1619 at Yarcombe, Devonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Brodebere, which was dated August 16th 1562, christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, 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.