This interesting surname is of English locational origin from one of the various places called Brownhill, for example in Yorkshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire. The placename derives from the Old English pre 7th "brun" meaning brown plus "hyll" a hill; hence "brown hill" and would be so called because of the colour of the vegetation. The surname is first recorded in the mid 16th Century, (see below). In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Brownhill, Brownell, Brownill, Brownhall, etc.. Recordings of the surname from the London church registers include; the marriage of Thomas Browell and Annie Panter, which took place on December 6th 1624, at London; Agnes, daughter of Thomas Browell, was christened on June 19th 1625, at St. Katherine by the Tower; Joyce, daughter of Thomas Browell was christened at the same place on July 22nd 1627; and Christopher Browell married Sarah Sherman on September 27th 1637, at St. Dunstans, Stepney. A coat of arms granted to the Browell family consists of a shield divided horizontally black and gold with a counterchanged vertical stripe in the middle and three gold fusils on the black. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Christian Browell, who married George Raynoldes, which was dated June 12th 1547, St. Michael Cornhill, London, during the reign of King Henry V111, "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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