This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from a now 'lost' place believed to have been situated in Berkshire. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets in Britain are known to have disappeared since the 11th Century, due to natural disasters such as the Black Death of 1348, during which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of 'clearing' large areas of land for sheep pastures during the boom in the wool trade of the 14th and 15th Centuries. The place called 'Brunsden' or 'Brunsdon' means 'Bruns hill', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century byname 'Brun', the brown one, with 'dun', hill, down, mountain. The name is found recorded in most of the southern counties of England, particularly Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. The marriage of John Brunsdon and Jane Kempe was recorded at Wantage, Berkshire, on August 19th 1655. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Brunsdon (christening), which was dated January 21st 1554, East Garston, Berkshire, during the reign of Queen Mary, 'Mary Queen of Scots', 1553-1558. 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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