The name Braxton is the transferred use of an English surname originating as a place name. Braxton is believed to mean "Bracc’s settlement" from the Olde English personal name “Bracc” plus the word “tūn” meaning "settlement, farm" (the origin of Bracc remains uncertain). However, since there is no identifiable place called Braxton in England, some etymologists believe the name is an altered spelling of Browston which is located in the southeastern county of Suffolk. In this case, Braxton translates instead to "Brown’s settlement or farm" - Brown originating from the Olde English "brun" meaning "dark, dusky." Place names were given as surnames after the Norman Conquest as a way to identify people and their assets for purposes of taxation under the new Norman king William the Conqueror. As people moved from their settlements, surnames became altered more significantly the further away they moved due to subtle geographical differences in language and dialect, as well as the general lack of written forms of communication. In any case, the surname “de Broxton” first appeared in the 13th century. As a forename, Braxton came into use around the 19th century.
In America, the name Braxton only very recently jumped onto the popularity charts in 1985 at the lowly position of #904. However, the last five years of that decade saw the name advance 200 more positions on the charts. In the 1990s, Braxton is clearly becoming the hot new ticket in town as the name climbs another 450 spots on the charts in that decade alone. The turn of the 21st century has seen some slower growth in usage for the name but it has managed to reach a spot on the Top 200 list of most-favored boys’ names. It’s hard to determine what might be fueling Braxton’s current and sudden popularity other than the modern naming trend which uses surnames as forenames. Although Braxton is not a Top 100 pick within the United States as a whole, there are several states that seem to find this name particularly attractive. It’s a Top 50 choice in West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama. It’s also ranked in the Top 100 in Idaho, Utah and Mississippi – not to mention Oklahoma, Nebraska and Tennessee. There doesn’t appear to be a rhyme or reason for the geographical popularity of this name. The southern states may have adopted the name from an infamous Confederate Army general named Braxton Bragg. Otherwise, we suspect American parents are using the mother’s maiden name (or some other important ancestral surname) or else they just like the “rough and ready” sound of the name Braxton. Whatever the reason, Braxton has shown some remarkable growth in usage within 25 short years without any clear external social or pop-culture influence. It’s just one of those names that people appear to be responding to.