This ancient name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, developed from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Bruning", which was originally a patronymic form of the byname "Brun". The derivation is from the Olde English "brun", brown, generally used as a nickname referring to the colour of a person's hair, complexion, or clothing. The personal name Browning was, unusually, still in use after the Conquest, surviving until the 14th Century; Bruning de Cestretona is recorded in Cambridgeshire in 1086; and Brunyng Dypres and Brounyng Oteland are recorded in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1296 and 1327 respectively. Early examples of the surname include William Brouning, in the 1291 Cambridgeshire Feet of Fines; and Richard Brouning, in the "Register of the Freemen of the City of York" of 1522. One John Browninge is recorded in the "Muster of the Inhabitants in Virginia" taken in February 1624; he had arrived in the colony on the "Abigall" in 1621. Perhaps the most notable bearer of the name was the English poet Robert Browning (1812 - 1889), who came of a family that had been settled in Dorset for five hundred years. A Coat of Arms granted to a Browning family of Gloucestershire depicts a barry wavy of six silver and blue. The Crest is a sinister arm from the elbow issuing from a cloud in the dexter, holding the hand above a serpent's head, erect from the middle, and looking toward the sinister proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Bruning, which was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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