Recorded as the popular surname Dunn (English, Scottish & Irish), Dunne and O'Doyne (Irish), the patronymics or diminutives Dunnan, Dunnin, Dunning and Dunnion (probably all Irish) although Dunning is a place in Scotland, which may have provided some name holders, this is a confusing national surname of pre-medieval origins. However spelt all the names seem to derive from the ancient words 'donn' or 'dunn' meaning brown, and 'brun(n)' which also meant 'brown'. As such this could be described as a national nickname given to people who were very brown in complexion - by conquerors initially of England who were fair. It was the Old British who fled from England to Wales, and then in some numbers to Ireland and even Western France to avoid the dreaded Vikings, the fair complexioned folk who caused so much havoc. These were mainly from Scandanavia but also from their Germanic neighbours around the Baltic sea, some of whom were renowned for their red hair! As we show below we have some difficulties with the very first surname recordings in Ireland because they no longer exist, but would have been from about the 12th cenury. Sadly most of these national records of Gaelic history going back to the very begining of writing in the 5th century a.d., were destroyed, when the IRA set fire to the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1916. This is a historical fact to which some of our 'modern' readers take exception to us reporting. This is regretable, but the truth often is. Examples of surviving recordings formerly held in Belfast, include John Dunnion whose son Charles was baptised at Londonderry on January 31st 1865, and Patrick Dunnion whose daughter Mary Ann was baptised, at Donegal, County Donegal, on October 10th 1866. The first recording of the name in any known spelling is probably that of Bruning de Cestretona in the Enquiry Ellensis of the county of Cambridgeshire, England, in 1086 a.d. This was in the reign of William 1st of England, and duke of Normandy, 1066 - 1087.
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