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Origin of the Name Brownlee

BACKGROUND by Ian Edward Brownlee

It is my theory that the name Brownlee may have come from Norman descent from Brun de Lys in the time of William the Conqueror, who was also the Duke of Normandy. William became William I, King of England in 1066 after defeating King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October of that year. See the external site http://www.britroyals.com/kings.asp?id=william1

This page has been set up as a place to gather documented evidence on the origin of the name. We also look forward to hearing of your research, comments and thoughts on this topic. All research submitted should show references from the source.

REFERENCES TO VARIOUS SPELLINGS - select name to see documented examples of the spelling.

Brounele; Brounlea; Brounlee; Brounle; Brounley; Brounly; Brounlie; Brownele; Brownlea; Brownlee; Brownley; Brownlie; Brownly; Brundeli; Brun de Lys or Brundelys; Brunle; Brunlee; Brunlie; Brunly; Brunley, Brunlie, Burnley; Burnlie; Burnly. See also The Origin of the Name.


Please email your comments or research to origins@brownlee.com.au with Brownlee Origins in the subject field and we will post them on this page.

There are many theories of the origin of the name Brownlee. This particular one comes from http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Brownlee
Recorded as Brownlea, Brownlee, Brownlie, Brownlees, and even Brunlees, this is a Scottish surname. It originates from a place formerly known as "The lands of Brownlee", in the county of Lanarkshire, or possibly from another village called Brownlee in Ayrshire. The meaning of the name is probably "Brun's farm", from the pre 8th century Olde English "Brun" a personal name, which developed into the surname Brown, and "legh", a fenced enclosure in the forest, suitable for agriculture, or in other words, a farm. Both Lanarkshire and Ayrshire formed part of the old kingdom of Strathclyde, which was an English dependancy, and where English was the spoken language from ancient times. It is not absolutely clear when the first recordings took place, but certainly in 1563 a Widow Brownlees was given as being a tenant of lands belonging to Newbotle Abbey, Ayrshire, and Issobel Brownleis was also a tenant on church lands, but this time those of Kelso Abbey in 1567. Janet Brownlee was recorded in Ersiltoune in 1653, and John Brounlie was the parish clerk of Carluke in 1624. Sir James Brunlees who died in 1892, was a famous Victorian engineer.

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