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Brown Family History
Family spelling variants include Browne, Broune, Brun, Broun.
The name was originally an English and Scottish nickname for a person with brown hair or brown complexion. It comes from the Middle English word brun, or broun which was derived from the Old French word 'brun', meaning brown (which in turn comes from continental German). In German Ashkenazi Jewish it is an anglicisation of the German 'braun' or Yiddish 'bron'. For some families, the Brown surname may derive from the Old Scandinavian 'brúnn' or 'brúni'.
In Irish and Scottish, it is a relationship name adopted for Ó Duinn (Dunne) or for any of the many Irish and Scottish Gaelic names containing the element donn ‘brown-haired’ (also meaning ‘chieftain’), for example Donohue. Also in Irish, the name is a phonetic anglicisation of Mac an Bhreitheamhnaigh (Breheny).
In medieval Nottinghamshire, the surname was interchangeable with Brownson.
There are approximately 2,367,380 Brown family members around the world. In general this figure can probably be doubled when maiden name connections and other relations are taken into consideration.
It is estimated that the largest group of Brown family members lives in the USA, with 1,756,746 (74.2%) members. In England there are 283,740 (12%), in Canada 108,883 (4.6%), Australia 91,228 (3.9%), South Africa 47,218 (2%), Scotland 46,035 (1.9%), Ireland 13,848 (0.6%), Wales 11,313 (0.05%) and New Zealand 8,396 (0.4%).
Early bearers of the surname include: Richard Brun, le Brun le mercer 1111–38, about 1140 in Ekwall, ELPN; William le Brun, 1169 in Pipe Rolls (Northants); William Brun, 1182–1205 in Bury Saint Edmunds Kalendar (Suffolk); Hugh Bron, 1274 in Hundred Rolls (Shrops); Agnes Broun, 1296 in Subsidy Rolls (Sussex); John le Browne, 1318 in Feet of Fines (Cambs); Agnes Brown, 1539 in IGI (Watford, Herts); Edmon Brown, 1539 in IGI (Clifford Chambers, Warwicks); John Brown, 1539 (North Elmham, Norfolk); John Brown, 1539 (Shorne, Kent); Nicholas Brown, 1539 (Shobrooke, Devon); John Brown, 1636, Robert Broon, 1678 (Rippingale, Lincs).
On the 1891 census, there were 172,021 occurrences of the surname in England and Wales as a whole, with a further 35,564 occurrences in Scotland.
- David Brown, an English convict from Kent, was transported aboard the ship 'Ann' in August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia.
- Robert Hanbury Brown, AC FRS (1916 – 2002) was a British astronomer and physicist born in India. He made notable contributions to the development of radar and later conducted pioneering work in the field of radio astronomy.
- Louise Joy Brown (b. 25 July 1978) is an English woman who was the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
International Genealogical Index, https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/igi
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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