Brun 14 had six manors in south Derbyshire and south Nottinghamshire, together with urban property in Derby. His rural manors were assessed at about 5 carucates and worth £8, but he may have been essentially a Derby man with a scatter of manors in the hinterland rather than a relatively minor rural thegn with urban property.
Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB
List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB
The clustering of this group of estates serves to identify their holder and distinguish him from his nearest namesakes in Cheshire and Yorkshire.
Other circumstances apart from the comparative rarity of the name might suggest that there was more than one Brun in south Derbyshire and south Nottinghamshire, but they can all be discounted. First, the difference in spelling between Brune at Rodsley and Brun elsewhere is unlikely to be significant, other than perhaps meaning that his name was actually Bruna rather than Brun, the weak rather than the strong form of the name. Secondly, the complicated pattern of combined tenures in the vills concerned may mean only that Brun 14 had overlapping relationships with other individuals. He held alone at Strelley and Brinsley, with Alric (Elric) (Alric) at Marston on Dove (Brun named first), with Odincar (Odincar) at Shipley (Brun named first), and with Ælfric (Aluric) (Ælfric) at Sutton Passeys (Brun named second). Alric and Ælfric may be the same person.
The entry for Sutton Passeys was a late addition to the manuscript, written after the text had been rubricated. It runs on after naming Brun and Ælfric with a further holding: ‘and Wulfsige (Vlsi) 1 carucate and a half to the geld. The soke lies in Wollaton.’ Wulfsige’s holding had in fact already been recorded elsewhere in the Nottinghamshire folios as 12 bovates (i.e. 1½ carucates) of sokeland in the main entry for Wollaton, a manor held TRE by Wulfsige cild (Vlsi cilt) (Wulfsige) (Notts. 10:38).
The most significant manor for the identity of Brun 14 is the most valuable, Rodsley, because it provides indirect evidence for a link with Derby. The 12 bovates at Rodsley held by Brun TRE and by Henry de Ferrers and his subtenant John in 1086, and over which ‘the abbot claims soke’, was almost certainly identical with the 12 bovates in Rodsley returned by the abbot of Burton as belonging to his manor of Mickleover (Derb. 3:1). Mickleover was an estate of Edward the Confessor which William I had given to the abbey, and it included land in the borough of Derby (Roffe 1989: 19–23). It thus formed part of the great pre-Conquest royal estate centred on Derby, and Brun held sokeland of that estate at Rodsley.
What this may mean is that Brun’s church in Derby was the church later associated with Mickleover and Burton abbey, St Mary’s (contra Roffe 1989: 20, 22), and that Brun therefore held one of the three royal churches in Derby. In 1086 Brun’s church was held by Norman de Lincolia, whose forename was either the English name Northmann or the Norman name Norman (Northmann/Norman). As has been pointed out, he was not a rural landowner in Derbyshire (Roffe 1989: 20) or indeed anywhere else, at least not under that byname. The byname, however, is distinctive enough to consider his identity with one of the two men called Northmann who are mentioned in DB’s account of the city of Lincoln: Northmann son of Siward the priest (Northmann), who had ½ carucate in the fields of Lincoln which was in dispute in 1086 (Lincs. C:14); and Northmann the fat (crassus) (Northmann), who was one of the twelve lawmen of Lincoln in 1086, held some rural property, and was (appropriately for a legal officer) disputatious about his rights (Lincs. C:2–3, 21; 33:1–2; CW:4–5, 17). Northmann the fat is probably the more plausible candidate for the Northmann of Lincoln who acquired Brun’s church.
Brun’s holding at Sutton Passeys was recorded among the land of the king’s thegns in Nottinghamshire; together with the status of his holding at Rodsley, that seems to make Brun a king’s thegn, closely involved in some way with Edward the Confessor’s demesne manor in Derby. He should be seen as associated with Derby first and foremost, and as holding rural property as a consequence of his connections with the king and the borough. The rural estates were all quite small and they were scattered across a countryside which was much less favoured than the Trent valley to the south, on the fringes of the hills further north.
Brun’s prominence locally is underlined by the fact that one of his Nottinghamshire manors was named after him as Brun’s lēah (Brinsley) (PN Notts. 117 and Watts 2004: 88 are unnecessarily sceptical; von Feilitzen 1937: 209 note 1 and Ekwall 1960: 66 accept the point without question).
Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960)
J. E. B. Gover, Allen Mawer, and F. M. Stenton, The Place-Names of Nottinghamshire, English Place-Name Society 17 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1940)
D. R. Roffe, ‘An introduction to the Derbyshire Domesday’, The Derbyshire Domesday, [ed. Ann Williams and R. W. H. Erskine] (London: Alecto Historical Editions, 1989), 1–00
The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names, based on the collections of the English Place-Name Society, ed. Victor Watts (with) John Insley and Margaret Gelling (Cambridge: Cambridge niversity Press, 2005)