Why the Brandis surname?

bear and ragged staff

The bear and ragged staff is an ancient emblem associated with Warwickshire

Brandis is probably the rarest surname in my family tree and the most puzzling — I have not been able to find it any surname dictionary. My most recent Brandis ancestor was my great great grandmother Annie Brandis (b 1846), wife of John Davis. The line traces back to seventeenth century Warwickshire as do other Brandis lines. Why this convergence on Warwickshire? Contrast this with the relatively uncommon surname Stickland which has a recognised meaning (“Dweller by the steep land”) derived from Old English, and obvious geographical ties with several places in Dorset where historically it occurs most frequently.

It's not just the name itself, but the people who used it. Why did so many emigrate from Britain to Australia, for instance? Is there a gene that goes with the name that engenders a sense of adventure? Or perhaps it’s more a sense of dissatisfaction and a longing for change!

Such speculation aside, doing family history certainly awakens the detective mindset. Finding an unusual and unexplained name feels like a challenge that is hard to ignore. I might never exactly solve the puzzle, but I will enjoy the process of investigating it.

Present contents and future scope

So, this part of the site is a growing collection of references to the Brandis surname. The first part to be put online is the index entries for statutory births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales. The period from 1837 to 1900 is virtually complete. I will be adding more records from the twentieth century over the coming months.

In the pipeline are baptisms and marriages from the IGI in Britain and continental Europe (“extracted records” only), and census returns from England and Wales. IGI records from other regions will follow. I will also be collecting as many references to the Brandis name from parish and other UK records as I can find.

Along with collecting references, I’ll be putting together family lines. Hopefully, as the information grows, lines will begin to converge and a clear(er) picture will emerge.

If you have information that would contribute to the unravelling of these connections, or that would correct an error on my part, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me, .

Brandis origins and variations

There are a number of possible variants of Brandis, ranging from the obvious Brandiss to the less certain such as Brandys, Brandes, Brandish, Brandist or Brandeis. An early variation may be Braundes. Whether these represent true variations, mis-spellings (perhaps due to regional/national accents), or entirely different surnames is open to question.

The Brandis surname appears to have at least two distinct origins in Britain. It is found as early as the sixteenth century in Warwickshire (and perhaps also in Gloucestershire); it is also a surname of nineteenth and twentieth century immigrants to Britain from the continent, especially from Germany and France. Then again, the Warwickshire lines may also descend from migrants.

arms of town of Brandis

The arms of the town of Brandis near Leipzig

There is a town in Germany, about six kilometres east of Leipzig, named Brandis which may be the origin of the Brandis surname on the continent. In Britain a specific geographical origin is less obvious. There is a hamlet in Devon called Brandis Corner, on the A3072 near Holsworthy, but nothing (so far) to connect it with the families in the Midlands.

There is a further complication. Brundish is a small town in Suffolk and a fairly common surname in East Anglia. Over time, a few families appear to change to consistently using Brandish instead of Brundish. Now Brandish is also a common variant of Brandis. Perhaps our migrant to Warwickshire was originally from nowhere more exotic than East Anglia…

I hope to be able to throw some light on all this as I continue to collect references and then place people in family groups. As ever, if you have any information that would correct or add to this initial assessment, then please do not hesitate to contact me, .