This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is of locational derivation. The present day bearers of the surname are sometimes said to descend from a single family, believed to have come from Brownhill near Sale in Cheshire in the late 13th Century. However, the name may also have originated from any of the other places called Brownhill, such as that near Wakefield in Yorkshire; Brownhills, an urban district near Walsall in Staffordshire; or Brownhills, a hamlet near St. Andrew's, Fifeshire. These placenames are composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century "brun", brown, and "-hyll", a hill; hence "the brown hill". The name today is most popular in the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire, while the first recorded namebearer (see below) is from a branch of the family which was established in Scotland in the early 14th Century. One Adam Brownhill was a member of the Scottish parliament for Edinburgh in 1367, and Ade de Brounhill or Bronhil held lands near Edinburgh, circa 1425 - 1430. The surname was popular in Edinburgh and its neighbourhood in the late 14th and 15th Centuries as Brounhill, Brounhil, Bronhil and Bronhyll. George Brownhill married Issobell Crookshanks on February 5th 1685, at Edinburgh. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ade de Brunhill, which was dated 1359, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. 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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