This interesting surname is of early medieval French origin, and is from a nickname referring to the colour of the hair, complexion, or clothing, derived from the Old French "brun", brown, originally of Germanic origin, from the Old High German "brun". A sizable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress, and occupation. The surname may occasionally be from a personal name, from the Old Norse "Brun", with the same origin. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography" was John le Brun (d. 1865), who was a Swiss born independent missionary in Mauritius; he was ordained for the congregational ministry in 1813 and began work at Port Louis, Mauritius, under the auspices of the London Missionary Society in 1814. He returned to England in 1833, because the Society abandoned its efforts in Mauritius due to official opposition. Le Brun returned on his own account in 1834, and was reappointed agent of the Society in 1841. He died at Port Louis. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William le Brun, which was dated 1169, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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.