Bretscher History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestral home of the Bretscher family is in the German state of Bavaria. The name Bretscher is an occupational hereditary surname, a type of surname that was taken from a word describing or common to the profession of the original bearer. It is a name for a carpenter or a person who worked making shelves and other wooden objects. The name Bretscher was originally derived from the Old Germanic word Brett, which means carpenter. It was given to a person who ran a sawmill or a lumber merchant. By the Middle Ages, the Bretscher family had been elevated to the ranks of the nobility and had become extremely involved in the local social, economic and political affairs of Bavaria. It acquired a prestigious reputation for its contribution to the development of the district. The social status and prestige of the Bretscher family was increased when it expanded and acquired distant estates in other areas of Germany.

Early Origins of the Bretscher family

The surname Bretscher was first found in Bavaria, where the name could be considered to have made an early contribution to the feudal society which became the backbone of early development of Europe. There is record of a Sydel Bretsnyder in 1372 in Liegnitz and a Peter Bretsnyder in Breslau in 1397.

Jakob Bretschneider is listed as living in Dippoldiswalde in 1499 in a document called "Die Matrikel des Hochstifts Merseburg" which chronicles Germanic surnames. The name became prominent in local affairs and branched into many houses which played important roles in the savage tribal and national conflicts, each group seeking power and status in an ever-changing territorial profile. Bret or Brett are short forms of the name Brettschneider, a name meaning a person running a sawmill or a lumber merchant.

Early History of the Bretscher family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bretscher research. Another 71 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1880, 1844, 1776 and 1848 are included under the topic Early Bretscher History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bretscher Spelling Variations

One can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames: in early times, spelling in general, and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized; and later, spellings would change with branching and movement of families. Variations of the name Bretscher include Bret, Brett, Brette, Bretsch, Brettschneider, Bretsnyder, Brettschnyder and many more.

Early Notables of the Bretscher family (pre 1700)

Prominent among members of the name Bretscher in this period include Friedrich Wilhelm Bretschneider, a lieutenant field-marshal in the Austrian army and at one time the commandant of the Italian city...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bretscher Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bretscher migration to the United States +

German settlers were among the most common to come to North America between the mid-17th and mid-20th centuries. Poverty and religious persecution drove many Bavarians to make this long trek. tenant farmers were also enticed by the prospect of owning land. From east to west, these German immigrants populated the United States, settling in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. Ontario and the prairie provinces of Canada also provided homes to many. Early settlers bearing the Bretscher surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Bretscher Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Heinrich Bretscher, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1735 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Bretscher (post 1700) +

  • Otto Bretscher, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Colby College, Maine
  • Willy Bretscher (1897-1992), Swiss newspaper writer and editor
  • Mark Bretscher (b. 1940), British biological scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society
  • Anthony Bretscher (b. 1950), Professor of Cell Biology at Cornell University


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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