This name is of English topographic origin for someone who lived by a particularly brown patch of open country, perhaps referring to the reddish soil colour of the area. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "brun" meaning "brown", plus "feld" translating variously as "open country", "land free from wood or a plain", It is interesting to note that the surname is first recorded in Devonshire - a place noted for its red soil. In 1384 one, Henry Brounfeld appears in the "Calendar of Letter Books" for Huntingdonshire.The name may also be locational from Bromfield in Shropshire, recorded as Brunfelde in the Domesday Book of 1086. On June 24th 1779 Benjamin Brownfield and Francis Whittall were married in Saint Alkmund, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de (of) Brounfeld, which was dated 1309, in the "Calendar of Letter Books, for Devonshire". during the reign of King Edward 11, known as Edward of Caernafon, 1307 - 1327. 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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