Amongst the more unusual surnames are those that derive from the pre 6th Century Olde English "beornan", meaning "to burn". In some nameholders the origination is topographic, and given to dwellers on "burnt land". This particularly applies to Yorkshire where much of the county was totally laid waste (and remained so for two hundred years) by William the Conqueror in 1070 in retribution for continued resistance to his invasion. One such recording was that of Simon del Brend in the 1318 Friary Rolls of York. However, the more usual explanation for the name is that it is a nickname for one who carried a brand mark on his forehead. These "brands" may have had a religious connection but were often a punishment for a perceived criminal activity. If any stigma was attached, it must have been of little consequence, as there have been at least eight Coats of Arms granted to Brend(e) and Brent nameholders. Examples of recordings of the name include: Adam Brend and John Brent in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire, whilst Geoffrey Le Brende is recorded in the Rolls of Suffolk in the same year. The name was also early into the first American Colonies, one Robert Brent (also recorded as Brend) being granted the right to all wrecks between Bermuda and Costa Rica; this was dated February 28th 1689. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Brende, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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