PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England

Domesday

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

Brun 26 Brun Reeve of Roger Bigod, fl. after 1066

Male
Author: CPL
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

  Discussion of the name  

Summary

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

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

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Brun 26 is mentioned in the account of William I’s manor of Southmere, high on the plateau overlooking the north Norfolk coast where the Wash opens out into the North Sea. The manor had belonged TRE to Earl Harold and included two demesne farms and the holdings of several dozen sokemen, partly located at Southmere itself and partly at its berewick of Titchwell, on the coast 4 miles to the north. After completing its account of the manor, DB adds a note about an illicit detention of land from the manor (whether at Southmere or Titchwell is not said): ‘4 sokemen, 4 acres of land TRE which, after the king came and after Roger received this manor, Brun the reeve of R[oger] Bigod took from this manor, and now Roger holds.’ Presumably this Brun (whose name is probably spelled Brum rather than Bruni) was some local official co-opted into Roger Bigod’s administration after 1066.

The scene of this minor piece of land-theft, however, suggests a possible link with an earlier Brun (Brun 3), mentioned in the will of Bishop Ælfric II of Elmham (Ælfric 104) (S 1489). The will was written between 1035 and 1038. The lands which the bishop left were scattered across much of East Anglia, but much the largest concentration was in the district around Southmere and indeed included estates at Titchwell and abutting Southmere at Docking.

Brun received two bequests: ‘the estate at Fersfield shall be sold as dearly as possible, and 1 mark of gold shall be paid to iungere Brun . . . And I grant to iungre Brun the half-thousand fen [evidently meaning ‘worth half a thousand pence’]’. The word which precedes Brun’s name is difficult to interpret. The standard edition of the wills translates it as ‘the younger(?)’, from OE gingra, the comparative of geong, but notes that it could equally represent the OE noun gingra, geongra, a word with a variety of meanings across the semantic range covering ‘disciple’, ‘pupil’, ‘vassal’, and ‘inferior’, but which in the Anglo-Saxon laws refers to a subordinate official, sometimes working for an ealdorman, sometimes for a reeve (Whitelock 1930: 73, 183–4 [no. 26]). The noun for an official seems much the more likely meaning, not least because Brun’s first appearance in the will is sandwiched between the bishop’s bequests to ‘my tailor’ and ‘my priest at Walsingham’, and so forms a group of close personal servants.

Whitelock (1930: 184) discounted any identification of Brun 3 with Brun, reeve of Ipswich (Brun 19), on chronological grounds, since there is evidence (though it is not clear-cut) that the latter survived in 1086, forty-eight years after Brun 3’s appearance in the bishop’s will. A more plausible identification would be between Brun 3 and Brun 26, Roger Bigod’s reeve, since the latter may have been active much nearer 1066 than 1086.

Bibliography

Anglo-Saxon Wills, ed. and trans. D. Whitelock (Cambridge, 1930).

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