In most cases, this name derives from an Anglo-Saxon nickname, later used as a surname, referring to the colour of a person's hair, complexion or clothing. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brun", brown, the same word in Old French and Middle English. The modern surname may occasionally derive from an Olde English personal name "Brun", or the Old Norse "Bruni", which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Brun" and "Brunus" but was rarely found after the Norman Conquest.The modern surname can be found as "Brown" and "Browne" and is one of the most frequently recorded names in the English-speaking world. The Irish name "Browne" derives from Norman and English sources; in Galway, the Brownes are descendants of a 12th Century Norman invader called "le Brun", while the Brownes of Killarney are descended from an Elizabethan Englishman. Among the several notable namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" are John Brown, heraldic painter to Henry V111; Lancelot Brown (1715 - 1783), known as "Capability Brown", who designed gardens at Kew, and Sir John Brown, (1816 - 1896) pioneer of armour plate manufacture. One Peter Brown appears on a list of passengers who sailed to New England aboard the "Mayflower" in 1620. He lived some fourteen years after, and was survived by four children. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William le Brun, which was dated 1169, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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