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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, French

The ancestors of the Brunel family lived among the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Brunel was a name given to a person with brown hair or a dark complexion. The surname Brunel is derived from the Old English word burnel. This word comes from the Old French word brunel, which is a diminutive of the Old French word brun. Normally a nickname, Brunel was also used as a personal name.


The surname Brunel was first found in Shropshire where they were a family of great antiquity. They held a family seat at Acton Burnell in the county of Salop where they were found as early as 1087 according to Dugdale. They also acquired Holgate in the same shire and one of the first on record was Lesire le Burnell, whose son Robert Burnell (1239-1292) was Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1275 and Lord Chancellor of England from 1274-1292. Another branch of the family was found in the parish of Sibthorpe in Nottinghamshire. "This place was anciently of some importance, and was the residence of the Burnell family, of whose spacious mansion, however, no remains now exist." [1] The parish of Acton-Burnell is of great importance to the family too. "This place, which is of considerable antiquity, is on a branch of the Roman Watling-street. It takes the adjunct to its name from the family of Burnell, of whom Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Lord High Chancellor in the reign of Edward I., had a castle in the parish, of which there are still some remains. Nicholas Burnell, a distinguished warrior in the reign of Edward III., was born and buried here." [1]

Brunel has been spelled many different ways, including Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Burnell, Burnhill, Byrnell and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brunel research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 157 and 1571 are included under the topic Early Brunel History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Brunel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Brunel family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 55 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Brunels to arrive on North American shores:

Brunel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Jean Brunel, who landed in Louisiana in 1719
  • Marc Isembiere Brunel, who arrived in New York in 1796

Brunel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Mr. Brunel, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1821

Brunel Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

  • Marie Catherine Collin Brunel, who landed in Canada in 1665


  • Shirley Brunel, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Concord 7th Ward, 1938; Elected New Hampshire State Senate 9th District 1948
  • Alene W. Brunel, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Concord 7th Ward, 1938
  • Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), French-born, English engineer and father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • Jacques Brunel (d. 1564), French organist and composer
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), British civil engineer, noted for his bridges and dockyards, best known for construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway
  • Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), French engineer


The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Caritas fructum habet
Motto Translation: Charity bears fruit.


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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  5. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  6. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  7. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  8. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  11. ...

The Brunel Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Brunel Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 8 March 2016 at 14:07.

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