Search billions of records on




Our Maternal




Family Ancestors


Family History

Origins of the Surname

Variations of the Surname

Ancestral Lineage

Ancestral Locations

Source Documents

Website Resources

Family Images Gallery

Contact Information



Family history



Family History


     We have traced our Bracken family line back to William Bracken an Englishman who probably lived in Lancashire during the second half of the 16th century.  Most of the information we’ve uncovered on this surname begins four generations later with William Bracken’s great-grandson also a William.

    This William Bracken, (1671-1749), is recognized as the ancestor who migrated to the New World.  William was born 1671 in the village of Melling, Lancashire.  The Bracken surname is prominent in the Lancashire region of England, especially in the villages of Chipping and Melling as well as the rural area known as the Forest of Bowland.  Around the year 1699 William and his young family immigrated to America landing in Philadelphia aboard the "Brittannia" of Liverpool.  The first known record of him in America is his purchase, in 1702, of one hundred acres of land in Delaware.  While it is evident that William made his home in New Castle County, Delaware, he did acquire much land in Pennsylvania because he believed that Lancaster County was a desirable place for his children to settle.  Our line continues on through William’s eldest son Thomas Bracken.  Thomas was born in the county of  Yorkshire  in  England  and  was christened on April 4, 1695 in the village of Clapham.  Thomas evidently lived in Delaware for the first thirty years or more of his married life, but sometime previous to 1759 he moved to a part of York County, Pennsylvania that was to later become a part of Adams County in 1800.    Thomas and his family were members of the Episcopal Church as shown by their relationship to Christ Church in Huntington Township, then located in York county, now in Adams County, Pennsylvania.  He was one of the vestrymen of the church in 1760 and 1761.

     Thomas’s daughter Hannah Bracken born about 1728 in New Castle County, Delaware is our 6th great-grandmother.  She married Nicholas Bishop II around 1750.  Sometime around 1765-66 Hannah and her husband joined the throng of Pennsylvania Scots-Irish that migrated to the uplands of western South Carolina along the Catawba River.  They settled in an area in the Camden District that would in 1785 become Chester County South Carolina. Hannah lived in this location until after 1800 when she moved, with her son James, to Hopkins County, Kentucky.  She produced seven known children of which each of her five sons fought in the American Revolutionary War.   

Origins of the surname


Origins of the Surname

Research into the history of this Bracken family line indicates that the meaning and history of this surname is most likely linked to that area of Europe where the English* or Irish (Gaelic)**language is commonly spoken. 


Meaning of the Name

     *The English Bracken surname originated as a topographic name from Middle English braken ‘bracken’ (from Old English bræcen or Old Norse brakni), or a habitational name from a place named with this word, such as Bracken in East Yorkshire or Bracon Ash in Norfolk. 

     **The Irish form of Bracken was previously recorded as O' Bracken, the O' prefix meaning male descendant being largely lost in the 17th century, and descending from the original Gaelic name O' Breacain. The name means 'speckled' from the ancient word 'breac', and as such was apparently a nickname given to the first chief or nameholder who presumably had freckles.


History of the Name

The Irish Brackin descends from the clan O'Breacain, which was established in the area between Edenderry and Rathangan around what is now the border of County Offaly and County Kildare. The surname, invariably without the 'O' is now scattered in various parts of the country, but some Brackens

still survive in the neighborhood of their early territory, and particularly around Tullamore, County Offaly. Here it is said, the clan have been resident since at least medieval times. The Bracken clan were more prominent and more populous in past centuries, as like many Irish clans their number have decreased considerably, often

through emigration. The name is one of the earliest recorded in Ireland with Bendict O'Breacan being bishop of Achory in the years from 1286 to 1312. Other later examples include Patrick Breagan who was christened at St Michans Cathedral, Dublin, on April 14th 1683.


Early Immigrants to North America

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity for to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.  Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of Bracken, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: Michael Bracken who arrived at Philadelphia from Liverpool in 1820 aboard the ship William Penn; Ann Bracken who arrived at Philadelphia aboard the ship Standard from Londonderry in 1826;  and Hugh Bracken from Ireland,  who landed at New York in 1850 aboard the ship Scargo.


*English Surname Meanings & Origins

Although the Domesday Book compiled by William the Conqueror required surnames, the use of them in the British Isles did not become fixed until the time period between 1250 and 1450.  The broad range of ethnic and linguistic roots for British surnames reflects the history of Britain as an oft-invaded land. These roots include, but are not limited to, Old English, Middle English, Old French, Old Norse, Irish, Gaelic, Celtic, Pictish, Welsh, Gaulish, Germanic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  Throughout the British Isles, there are basically five types of native surnames. Some surnames were derived from a man's occupation (Carpenter, Taylor, Brewer, Mason), a practice that was commonplace by the end of the 14th century.  Place names reflected a location of residence and were also commonly used (Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale) as a basis for the surname, for reasons that can be easily understood.  Nicknames that stuck also became surnames.  About one-third of all US surnames in the United States are Patronymic in origin, and identified the first bearer of the name by his father (or grandfather in the case of some Irish names).  Acquired ornamental names were simply made up, and had no specific reflection on the first who bore the name. They simply sounded nice, or were made up as a means of identification, generally much later than most surnames were adopted.  Source:


** Irish Surname Meanings & Origins

Most if not quite all, Irish surnames, have a nickname origin, some being extremely robust in their modern interpretation, although any sensibility in this respect seems to have passed by the original name holders. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's Christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor.    In the latter part of the sixteenth century, an influx of settlers arrived in Ireland under the patronage of Elizabeth I of England, and colonized the country beyond the 'Pale', the area around Dublin that was the only part firmly under English control.  At the same time, groups of Presbyterian settlers were encouraged to migrate from Scotland to Ulster, thus establishing the distinctively Scottish surnames of Ulster. During the long centuries of English domination, Irish surnames were crudely Anglicized either phonetically or by translation. Irish surnames are now very widely dispersed, and are common in England as well as in Ireland, the United States and Australia.

Variations of the surname


Variations of
the Surname

Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families.  The spelling of the Bracken surname is not at all uniform in the early records. It would appear that the nationality and learning of the scribe might be responsible to some extent for this fact. In William Bracken’s 1749 will the name is spelled Brackon. In the record of Old Swede's Church (Wilmington) it is spelled Bracken, Brackin, Brakin, Braken, Brachen, and Brochon, while some of the records add to this Brakyn. The oldest son, Thomas, and most of his descendants, spelled the name Bracken, so too did John and some at least of his descendants while the descendants of the third son, Henry, after wavering for a time, finally settled down to Brackin. Bracken is the spelling for the name in Scotland, England and to some extent in Ireland. Brackin is quite generally an Irish spelling of the name.


The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may also have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents. The Soundex system was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname.  Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research.  The Soundex Code for Bracken is B625. Other surnames sharing this Soundex Code:  BARKMAN | BERGANDINE | BERGEN | BERGIN | BERGMAN | BERGMANN | BERKHEIMER | BIRKENHEAD | BRACKENBURY | BRACKHONGE | BRASINGTON | BRASSINGTON | BRECKENRIDGE | BRECKON | BRESNER | BRICKENDEN | BRICKMAN | BRIGANCE | BRIGHAM | BRIGMAN | BRIZENDINE | BROCKMAN | BROGAN | BROKINS | BROOKMAN | BROSNAN | BRYSON | BURCHAM | BURGAN | BURGIN | BURGOYNE | BURKAN | BURKHAMMER | BURKMAN | BURSON | BURZYNSKI |

Source: Surname Resources at ROOTSWEB


Searching for more Information about this and other surnames?

Then take a look at our:



Direct ancestors


Ancestral Lineage


Descendant Register

Generation 1

1.           William Bracken-1 was born on Abt. 1555 in Lancashire, England. He died on 1602 in Lancashire,  England.

2.            i.         William Bracken, B: Abt. 1580 in Lancashire, England, D: 1634 in Lancashire,  England, M: 05 Feb 1599 in Clapham, Yorkshire, England.


Generation 2

2.           William Bracken-2(William Bracken-1) was born on Abt. 1580 in Lancashire, England. He died on  1634 in Lancashire, England. He married Ellena Howson on 05 Feb 1599 in Clapham, Yorkshire,  England. She was born on Abt. 1580 in Lancashire, England. She died on Abt. 1604 in  Lancashire, England.

Child of William Bracken and Ellena Howson is:


3.        i.         Robert Bracken, B: 1602 in Lancashire, England, D: 1638 in Lancashire, England.


Generation 3

3.           Robert Bracken-3(William Bracken-2, William Bracken-1) was born on 1602 in Lancashire,  England. He died on 1638 in Lancashire, England. He married Margaret Bracken (Mdn. Mn. Unk.).  She was  born on 1599 in Yorkshire, England.

Children of Robert Bracken and Margaret Bracken (Mdn. Mn. Unk.) are:


i.             Christopher Bracken, B: 1626 in Lancashire, England.

ii.            William Bracken, B: 1628 in Lancashire, England.

4.            iii.       Thomas Bracken, B: 19 Oct 1638 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England, D: 06 Feb  1682 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England, M: 1662 in (Chipping Church),  Lancashire, England.


Generation 4

4.           Thomas Bracken-4(Robert Bracken-3, William Bracken-2, William Bracken-1) was born on 19 Oct  1638 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England. He died on 06 Feb 1682 in Salterforth, Lancashire,  England. He married Margaret Bleasdale on 1662 in (Chipping Church), Lancashire, England,  daughter of John Bleasdale and Margaret Bleasdale (Mdn. Nm. Unk.). She was born on Abt. 1632  in Lancashire, England. She died on Sep 1671 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England. He married   Margaret Bleasdale on 11 Jun 1656 in Chipping Church, Lancashire, England.  , daughter of John  Bleasdale and Margaret Bleasdale (Mdn. Nm. Unk.). She was born on Abt. 1632 in Lancashire,  England. She died on Sep 1671 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England.

Children of Thomas Bracken and Margaret Bleasdale are:


i.             Elizabeth Bracken.

ii.            Robert Bracken.

iii.          Henry Bracken.

  1.             iv.       William Bracken, B: 1671 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England, D: 28 Dec 1749 in  Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware, M: 26 Jan 1692 in Slaidburn,  Yorkshire, England.


Generation 5

5.           William Bracken-5(Thomas Bracken-4, Robert Bracken-3, William Bracken-2, William Bracken-1)   was born on 1671 in Salterforth, Lancashire, England. He died on 28 Dec 1749 in Mill Creek  Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware. He married Hannah Booker on 26 Jan 1692 in Slaidburn,  Yorkshire, England. She was born on 1677 in England. She died on 04 Apr 1749 in New Castle  County, Delaware.

Children of William Bracken and Hannah Booker are:

 6.        i.         Susannah Bracken.

ii.            Henry Bracken.

7.            iii.       Hannah Bracken, B: Abt. 1701 in New Castle County, Delaware, D: 02 Feb 1722  in New Castle County, Delaware ?, M: 02 Feb 1722 in (Old Swedes Church)New  Castle, Delaware.

iv.          Margaret Bracken.

8.            v.        Thomas Bracken, B: 1695 in Clapham, Yorkshire, England, D: 1780 in Monaghan  Township, York County, Pennsylvania, M: 21 Dec 1721 in New Castle County,  Delaware.

9.            vi.      John Bracken, B: 1697 in Clapham, Yorkshire, England, D: 24 Apr 1777 in  Orange County, North Carolina.

vii.         Martha Bracken.


Generation 6

8.           Thomas Bracken-6(William Bracken-5, Thomas Bracken-4, Robert Bracken-3, William Bracken-2,  William Bracken-1) was born on 1695 in Clapham, Yorkshire, England. He died on 1780 in  Monaghan Township, York County, Pennsylvania. He married Martha Green on 21 Dec 1721 in  New Castle County, Delaware, daughter of Edward Green Jr. and Mrs. Edward Green. She was  born in New Castle County, Delaware. She died in York County, Pennsylvania ?.

Children of Thomas Bracken and Martha Green are:


11.         i.         William Bracken, B: Delaware ?, D: Bef. 1794 in Westmoreland County,  Pennsylvania, M: 03 Nov 1755 in Old Swede's Church, Wilmington, Delaware.


12.         ii.        James Bracken, B: New Castle County, Delaware, D: Sep 1778 in York County,  Pennsylvania, M: 28 Aug 1765 in Carlisle, Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania.

iii.          Mary Bracken, D: Aft. 1779.

iv.          Margaret Bracken.

13.         v.        Jean Bracken, B: New Castle County, Delaware, D: Pennsylvania ?, M: Abt. 1745  in York County, Pennsylvania.

14.         vi.       Hannah Bracken, B: Abt. 1728 in New Castle County, Delaware, D: Hopkins  County, Kentucky ?, M: Abt. 1750 in New Castle County, Delaware ?.

15.         vii.       Thomas Bracken, B: Abt. 1740 in New Castle County, Delaware, D: Feb 1803 in  Canonsburg, Washington Co., Pennsylvania, M: Abt. 1764.

16.         viii.      John Bracken, B: Delaware ?, D: 1777, M: Abt. 1759.

17.      ix.       Martha Bracken.


Generation 7

14.        Hannah Bracken-7(Thomas Bracken-6, William Bracken-5, Thomas Bracken-4, Robert Bracken-3,  William Bracken-2, William Bracken-1) was born on Abt. 1728 in New Castle County, Delaware.  She died in Hopkins County, Kentucky ?. She married Nicholas Bishop Jr. on Abt. 1750 in New  Castle County, Delaware ?, son of Nicholas Bishop Sr. and Dorcas Bishop (Nee?). He was born  on Abt. 1723 in New Castle County, Delaware ?. He died on 1787 in Camden District, Chester  Co., South Carolina.

Children of Hannah Bracken and Nicholas Bishop Jr. are:


i.             Henry Bishop, B: Abt. 1750 in Delaware, D: Dec 1780 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

ii.            William Bishop, B: 1755 in Pennsylvania, D: 1836 in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

iii.          Dorcas Bishop, B: Abt. 1758.

iv.          Nicholas Bishop III, B: 1760 in Pennsylvania, D: 18 Nov 1843 in Pendleton, Anderson Co., South Carolina, M: Abt. 1785 in Chester District, South Carolina.

v.           James Bishop, B: Abt. 1762 in Pennsylvania, D: 1823 in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

vi.          Hannah Bishop, B: Abt. 1763 in Pennsylvania.

vii.          John Bishop, B: Abt. 1764 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, D: 1852 in Chester County, South Carolina.


Additional information about our DIRECT ANCESTORS their families as well as a complete listing of individuals with this surname may be reviewed by clicking on the following LINK.


MMPS Surname Locator


Free Genealogy Surname Search Help from Google

This free genealogy site to help you get the best genealogy searches from Google™ by using your family tree, for your research. It will create a series of different searches using tips or "tricks" that

will likely improve your results. The different searches will give you many different ways of using Google and the Internet to find ancestry information about this or any other Surname. 

Ancestral locations




Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill-in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.  The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the persons in the “Direct Ancestors” list (see above) were born, married, and/or died.











New Castle






Use this LINK to find out more about the locations listed above.


Source documents




The documents contained herein have been located during our research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.


     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?;  (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE:  Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing  Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63


You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive.

  Should you encounter a problem obtaining a copy you may get in touch with

 us via the contact information found at the end of this page.

Use the following LINK to view the source documents pertaining

 to this family.



Web resources


Web Resources


This search engine may

provide you with additional

information to assist with

your research about this topic.

General Surname Resources

Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of SURNAME WEB. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 


SURNAME FINDER provides easy access to free and commercial resources for 1,731,359 surnames. On each surname specific "finder" page, you can search a variety of online databases all pre-programmed with your surname.


Use the following link to get access to millions of genealogy and surname records with a FREE surname search at THE GENEALOGY REGISTER.


Additional Sites That We Recommend

Linkpendium Surnames - Web sites, obituaries, biographies, and other material specific to a surname.

Cyndi's List - Surnames, Family Associations & Family Newsletters Index - Sites or resources dedicated to specific, individual family surnames. - Family History and Genealogy Records - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.

Top Genealogical Websites - These mighty roots resources compiled by “Family Tree Magazine”, will give you the power to bust through research brick walls and find answers about your ancestors—all from your home computer.

SurnameDB Free database of surname meanings - This site SurnameDB.Com contains a large FREE to access database (almost 50,000 surnames) on the history and meaning of family last names.




The following Link will take you to our library of genealogy reference books.   Here you will find bibliographies, family histories and books about names.  In addition, there are texts that pertain to ethnic and religion groups, history, geography as well as other books that will assist you with your research.


 Research Library – Table of Contents


Images gallery


Family Images

During our research we have collected images and photographs that are of general interest to a particular family.  Some of them are presented on this website because we believe they tend to provide the reader with additional information which may aid in the understanding of our ancestors past lives.


If you have any photographs or other images relating to this

ancestral family we would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

Use the following LINKS to ascertain whether we have any images that pertain to this family.


Free Image Search

Help from Google

Use the power of Google™ to find more interesting images about this Historical migration route. A Click on this button will link you to the Google Images Search page. 

Enter the topic you are searching in the box and click “Search Images”. At the “Images” display page you will see the image,  as well as the website of which it is associated.

Contact Information



Snail Mail:

889 Dante Ct.
Mantua, NJ 08051



Pony Express:

27 Christopher Dr.
Burton, NB E2V3H4