This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) and Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Bruning", originally a patronymic from the byname "Brun, meaning "brown". The name, however, could also have been given to someone as a nickname, from the Middle English "brun, le brun", from the Olde English "brun" or Old French "brun", both of Germanic origin, from the Old High German "brun". A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or habits of dress, and occupation. In this case the nickname was probably given in reference to the colour of the hair, complexion, or clothing. The surname can also be found as Browning, and the poet Robert Browning (1812 - 1889) came of a family that had been settled in Dorset for five hundred years. Recordings of the surname from Norfolk Church Registers include the marriage of Robtus (Robert) Brunning and Elizabeth Bradstreet, at Capel St. Mary, Norwich, on April 20th 1547. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Brunning, which was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "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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