I asked if I might see the proprietor. The black man broadly smiled and graciously remarked: 'I am the proprietor, Sir.' Embarased, he quickly excused himself as diplomatically as possible and concluded: "From here out, I'm going to be more careful in looking up prospective relatives."
So much for the story -- true, surnames in the sense of hereditary designation, date in England from about the year 1000 or a little after. Most of them were introduced from Normandy. However, there are records of Saxon surnames prior to the Norman conquest.
By the end of the twelfth century hereditary names had become common in England. But as late as 1465, they were not universal. Certain Irish outlaws were compelled by law during the reign of Edward V to adopt a surname. As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, a similar decree compelled Jews in Germany and Austria to add a German surname to the single names, which they had previously used.
Bardsley in his English Surnames, Their Sources and Significations, states, "that the name Bunn, as we have it today, is derived from a nickname which meant 'Good' or a name derived from peculiarities of disposition." /l The Norman elements is indicated in the chivalrous sobriquet. Thank goodness the nickname was complimentary; many early nicknames were not. Further commenting on the name, Bardsley states, "Our 'Bones, Boons and Bunns' are variously corrupted forms of 'Duran le Bon, Richard le Bone, Alice le Bonne or William le Boon', equivalent to the earlier Goods."
Bunn, Bunne - as defined by Bardsley in his works entailed, A Dictionary of English and Welsh surnames with special American Instances, originated from a nickname 'le bon, i.e. good. (Often an expression of endearment in the French language) Bon or Bunn was probably sometimes a Christian name as was frequently the name Good.
There is a possibility that the surname Bunn might have been derived from and originally designated the place of residence of the bearer. Such names were popular in France at an early date and were introduced into England by the Normans, many of whom were known by the title of their estates. The surnames adopted by the nobility were mainly of this type. They were used with the particles de, de la, or del (meaning of, or 'of the').
Since bon, bonne, etc., in French means good, one could easily surmise Bunn might have been derived from the place of residence or estate of the good residence or good estate.
In the haze of uncertainty, a summary of the situation appears to point to the fact that the name Bunn as finally evolved is of French origin. Very probably the name was derived from the word bon or bunne meaning 'good' as before mentioned. This is the conclusion of the Media Research Bureau, Washington, D.C., as well as Charles Newton French, relative of the Southern Illinois Bunns by marriage, who spent a life