Brunning family - Origins

Some of the first known mentions of the name are around Bungay and Henstead in Suffolk and the name is still most common around East Anglia, especially the Lowestoft area. It seems that the roots of the family definitely lie in Suffolk. In this area, the name is mentioned many times from 1700 onwards. Popular Christian names include John, Frederick, Charles, Henry, Thomas and Old Testament names such as Isaac, Jacob and Abraham.

Occupations in those early times tended to be gardeners or agricultural workers, mechanics or engineers. There are also some parsons.

One branch of the family started on 16th October 1700 when a William Brenning, a miller, married Rachel Ingate in Weston. He is an ancestor of the late Carl Brunning of Dunmow (sometime chairman of Brunning Group plc) who was born around 1908 and contacted me in 1990. I have recently made contact with his nephews.

The origins of the name according to the Oxford Dictionary of Surnames 3rd ed. 1997 are as follows: I have seen this quoted on a mailing list: I suspect some links also with: It seems therefore that the name is Old English rather than a recent import, though there are similar names in other northern European countries. An alternative suggestion is that it is Huguenot. Refugees from France came to England between 1550 and 1600 ... maybe they were from the low countries, having drifted from the town of Brunn in Bohemia. In the region, the suffix "ing" denotes a local official.

Other dictionaries of surnames seem to agree that Browning is a variant of Brunning rather than the other way round. BROWNING comes from the Middle English & Old English personal name Bruning, originally a patronymic from the byname BRUN (from which the name Brown derives.)

The Internet Surname DB has this entry for Brunning.

There is a description of Bruning and Browning in a directory of names here:
Surnames: What's in a Name? * Name Origins & Meanings * Broken Arrow Publishing

There are quite a few Brunnings in the 1700s in the Sudbury area. My earliest definite ancestor is a carpenter named James Brunning, who married Mary Serjeant in 1777 in Great Waldingfield. His son Edward, also a carpenter, was born in 1791 and died in Sudbury in 1859. Edward was married twice: first to Elizabeth Bacon in 1811 in St. Peter's Sudbury. She bore him 4 children (Charles, Elizabeth, Eliza and Edward) and died in 1836. The young Edward also died before his father married his second wife Harriet Death in 1839 in St. Peter's, Sudbury. They had 5 children: Edward Meadows, Philip, William Thomas, Harriet Ann and Rosina.

Edwards Meadows Brunning appears in the 1881 census as a Silk Weaver in Braintree. He is living with his wife Elizabeth (b. Great Maplestead, Essex) amd 10 children - ranging from a 3 day old daughter to a 22 year old son. The eldest Edward Peter was a Whitesmith. The others' names are Philip, Harry, William, Elizabeth Mary, George, Frank, Kate Alice, Emily: the youngest was not named.

William Thomas Brunning was my great-grandfather and my grandfather Sydney John was one of ten children. My father, Sidney John George, an only child, was born in Hackney in 1913. He was a minister in the Church of England and spent 25 years in Sunningwell, a parish near Oxford. I have 3 siblings, of whom 2 are married, and there are currently 8 in the next generation.

Recent research has revealed further information about earlier ancestors.

Suffolk Ancestry

There's an increasing amount of help available on the web to help: these are sites that I found particularly useful:
GENUKI Suffolk Pages
Suffolk Record Office
Suffolk Surnames list
Suffolk section of ArchiveCDBooks - old books available in PDF format on CD-ROM
The Cosford Database - mostly Lavenham and Cosford Registration District of Suffolk, England
Suffolk Churches
Suffolk Family History Society
Suffolk Local History Council

Over the last few years, I have heard from Brunnings in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, and Germany, as well as the UK. At least three are distant cousins.

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