This is an English surname. Recorded in the spellings of Branson, Branston, Bransom, Bramston, and Bramson, it is locational and derives from one of the various villages called Branston, Brandeston, Brandeston, Braunston and Branson, in the counties of Leicester, Lincoln, Stafford, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northampton and Staffordshire. These villages with a pre 8th century Anglo-Saxon or sometimes Norse-Viking origin. All have exactly the same meaning which is the farm (tun) cleared by burning (brandr). "Burning" was for many centuries the only way of reclaiming land for agriculture, and it is perhaps surprising that not more places were so named. The early surname development has included recordings such as Haim de Branzton, of Lincoln in the year 1202, Holte de Brandeston of Suffolk in 1210, Agnes Branson in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379, and Robert Braunston and William Branston both in the records of the Hearth Roll tax in Suffolk in 1568. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Gilbert de Branteston. This was dated 1200, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Suffolk, during the reign of King John of England, who rejoiced in the nickname of "Lackland". He reigned from 1199 to 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.