The Origins of the Surname

Brogden was (and continues to be) a rural place name, near Barnoldswick, in the old West Riding of Yorkshire, England. As a result of Local Government Reorganisation in the 1970s, it is now in the county of Lancashire. The Oxford Dictionary of Place Names (Ekwall; 1966) lists Brogden and its first documented mention as Brokden (1307 in the Pudsay Deeds). Brogden = brook dene = the valley of the brook.

In the Yorkshire West Riding edition of Phillimore's English Surnames Series (George Redmonds; 1973) Brogden is identified as a distinctive local surname, which "flourished in the rural north of the Riding" and can be found in the 1379 poll tax records.

A search of the 1999 UK electoral registers revealed nearly 1000 Brogdens of voting age (see below). In addition, some 25 people in the UK who spell the name with don rather than den are listed. Brogden family history researchers in the USA, however, find about as many Brogdons as Brogdens. In Australia and New Zealand, the den spelling prevails.

There are several variations of the original spelling. For example, in the 1881 UK Census, the following are noted:

  • Brogden - 999 persons in the 1881 Census
  • Bragden - 15 (Lancashire, Berkshire, London area) [Includes 5 Bragden children in the Abingdon Workhouse who came from Cumnor; these were most likely to be Brogdens.]
  • Bragdon - 4 (Northumberland and Kent.) [Interestingly, one Oxfordshire family of Brogdens became Bragdon by mistake in Rollo Arnold's book about emigration to New Zealand.]
  • Brockedon - 4 (Devon) [But Brock may not be a Brog - it's the wrong Anglo-Saxon root.]
  • Brogde - 1 (South coast)
  • Brogder - 5 (London area)
  • Brogdin - 1 (Berkshire)
  • Brogdon - 57 (15 in Northumberland; 15 in County Durham; 10 in West Riding of Yorkshire; 1 in East Riding; 2 in Warwickshire; 1 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire; 1 in Abingdon, Berkshire; 4 in Wantage, Berkshire)
  • Brogdew - 3

The following surnames are probably not Brogdens, being names from Scotland:

  • Brogan - 1009
  • Brogen - 31
  • Brogg - 3
  • Broggan - 34 - (probably a variant of Brogan)
  • Brogge - 2 (see Brogg)
  • Broggen - 4 (see Brogan)
  • Brogham - 2 (probably a variant of Brogan)
  • Brogham - 5 (probably a variant of Brogan)
  • Broghen - 1 (probably a variant of Brogan)

There are Brogd*ns in England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada, South Africa and the USA. If these are all related to the Brogden family tree, and probably only DNA will solve the mystery for current descendants, some missing links may be found. Are the Brogdons in the USA related to the Northumberland or County Durham Brogdons or do they descend from Brogdens whose spelling got changed in the States? The spellings of surnames were often incorrectly recorded by clerks and vicars, especially in earlier times when many people could not themselves write. One John Brogden whose name was spelled correctly in his Oxfordshire church records, became John Brogdan by the time he emigrated to New Zealand.

One of the many unanswered questions is whether the Oxfordshire Brogdens were direct migrants from Yorkshire or whether they have a different ancestry. Much further work needs to be done to find a way to trace the name before the earliest so far discovered church record of a Brogden in Oxfordshire notes that George married Elizabeth Brown in Bampton in 1709. It will be interesting to discover whether it was his parents or earlier generations who moved there and where they moved from? (See Research and Queries)

A discovery in the Warwickshire County Record Office database (see is that a John Brogden of Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire, received a quitclaim (renunciation of any claim against a right to land) from Thomas Denton of Besselsleigh on 28 March 1547. Besselsleigh was then in Berkshire but now in Oxfordshire and is close to the area in which the Oxfordshire Brogdens flourished. This may be a simple co-incidence but Warwickshire borders Oxfordshire and there are other intriguing references in the database to Brogdens in the Warwickshire area: Thomas Brogden, a draper, in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1574; Sir John Brogden, minister, who won a dispute with King Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries and had property reinstated; Edward Brogden, "gent" (of Worcester) in 1547. (Was this Edward related to the Edward (1527 - 1557) who became MP for Worcester? See Brogdens: Some Characters)

Click here for news about the Brogden DNA Testing Project.

See: Brogdens - some branches for regional information.

Further articles on general Brogden ancestry to be found in this website: