PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]

Brun 20 Brun ‘of Grundisburgh’ (Suff.), fl. 1066

Author: CPL
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

  Discussion of the name  


Brun 20 was a small free peasant with 20 acres worth 5s. in east Suffolk, commended to the great lord Eadric of Laxfield.

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB


Five parcels of land and three commended lordships all ascribed to Brun and within a 10-mile radius of Ipswich might seem on the face of it to represent a single landowner. The balance of probability is tipped in favour of three identifications by the circumstances of pre-Conquest commendation, post-Conquest succession, and geography.

What serves to identify Brun 20, and to distinguish him from Brun 19 and Brun 21, was his commendation to Eadric of Laxfield, succession by Hervey de Bourges, and tenure of an estate near Woodbridge, north-east of Ipswich. Although Brun held his 20 acres from Eadric as well as being commended to him, the estate did not pass to Eadric’s designated successor Robert Malet but rather to Hervey de Bourges. Grundisburgh was much divided in 1066, among almost three dozen free men and sokemen, only two of whom had as much as 1 carucate of land (Suff. 4:16; 6:122; 8:2, 6; 21:55–56; 32:23; 67:10), and the basis on which they were allotted to Norman lords is not at all clear.

Brun, presumably the same man, had some kind of interest in the adjoining vill of Hasketon, the nature of which is obscured by LDB’s lack of clarity and by a conflicting statement in IE. LDB has

Adhuc in eadem .ii. liberi homines [erasure] dim’ commendati Edrici . antecessor .R. malet . 7 .i. lib’ . commendatus cuiusdam commendati .E. 7 .i. commendatus . Bruni . de xii. acris . 7 ualet .ii. solidos.

Also in the same [Hasketon] 2 free men half commended to Eadric the antecessor of R[obert] Malet, and 1 free [man] commended to someone commended to E[adric], and 1 commended to Brun, of 12 acres and it is worth 2s.

The erased letters might have been the start of the standard abbreviation for commendatus (the only visible mark looks like part of an initial c–), that is, the scribe may have started to write that the two free men were commended to Eadric before realizing that they were only half commended to him. The ‘and’ after R. Malet could be read as meaning that the free man commended to someone commended to Eadric, and the free man commended to Brun, were additional to the two free men half commended to Eadric, but that flies in the face of the need to account for the other half commendation of the first two free men. Probably we have one free man half commended to Eadric and half to someone who was himself commended to Eadric, and another free man half commended to Eadric and half to Brun.

When we turn to Ely abbey’s copy of its own Domesday material for Hasketon we find a different assertion: ‘i. liber homo commendatus .S. ædel. Brun .vi. acrae . et ualet .xii. denarios’ (‘1 free man commended to St Æthelthryth [i.e. Ely abbey], Brun, 6 acres and it is worth 12d.’). The fact that this holding is half the assessment and half the value of the land described in LDB adds weight to the idea that the 12 acres were divided between two men, not four. In Ely’s account, one of them was Brun himself, commended to Ely, rather than someone commended half to Brun, but it is not clear whether Ely’s account was true. We know from Grundisburgh that Brun was commended to Eadric; and if LDB’s statement is accurate, the two free men with 6 acres apiece were each half commended to Eadric and half to men (one of them Brun) who were themselves commended to Eadric.

All this places Brun of Grundisburgh firmly in the orbit of Eadric of Laxfield, and for that reason unlikely to be the reeve of Ipswich (Brun 19), who was above all the queen’s man.

Brun 20 farmed his 20 acres at Grundisburgh with one plough in 1066.

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