This most interesting surname, while ultimately of Old German origin, is a Dutch name cognate with the Old High German "brun", which gave rise to the Old French and Olde English "brun", brown, found as "bruin" in the Dutch language, where it also means bear. Hence, this was a nickname given to someone with particularly brown hair, or a tanned complexion, or to one who always wore brown clothes. The name may occasionally be from the Olde English personal name "Brun" or the Old Norse "Bruni", from the same ultimate origin. The surnames Brown, Browne, Broun(e) (England), Braun, Bru(h)n (Germany) and Bruno (Portugal), and many more, all derive from the same source mentioned above. The surname is first recorded in England in the early 13th Century (see below), and Patrick le Bruin was mentioned in 1269 in the Assize Court Rolls of Northumberland. William Bruyn was recorded in 1330 in the "Calendar of Inquisitiones post mortem" (Wiltshire). Anna, daughter of Harmen and Hilletje Bruijn, was christened on December 27th 1657 at Rotterdam, Holland, while Evrouw, daughter of Hendriks and Grietie Bruin, was christened on December 19th 1697 at Jisp, Noord Holland. A Coat of Arms was granted to a Bruin family, which depicts a silver lion rampant, guttee de sang, on a blue field. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Bruin, which was dated 1209, in the "Pleas before the King and his Justices 1198 - 1212" (Norfolk), during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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