This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "brun", brown, and "hlaw", hill. These places include: Brownlow, south west of Astbury in Cheshire; Brownlow Green in the Bucklow rural district of Cheshire; and Brownlow Fold in Bolton, Lancashire. Occasionally, the initial element may be the Olde English personal byname "Brun", cognate with the Old Norse "Bruni", denoting someone with brown hair, or a dark complexion. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently produced variations on the original spelling, and in 16th Century English Church Registers the name is found as Brownloe, Brownloo, Brown(e)low, Brownlaw, and Brounlow. On May 25th 1563, Ralph Brownlowe and Jane Allanson were married in Standish, Gloucestershire, and on May 16th 1614, George Brownlow, an infant, was christened at St. Peter's, Bolton, Lancashire. A Coat of Arms granted to the Brownlow family is a gold shield with an inescutcheon within an orle of black martlets. In Heraldry the martlet indicates one who subsists on wings of Virtue and Merit, having little land to rest upon. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Brownlow, chief prothonotary of the court of common pleas, which was dated 1553 - 1638, in the "Records of the Inner Temple", London, during the reign of Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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