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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish-Alt, Irish

Where did the Irish Bryan family come from? What is the Irish Bryan family crest and coat of arms? When did the Bryan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Bryan family history?

The old Gaelic name used by the Bryan family in Ireland was O Briain, which means descendant of Brian.


During the Middle Ages, scribes listened to a person's name and then decided the spelling from there. Names, therefore, often had many spelling variations. The variations of the name Bryan include: O'Brien, OBrine, O'Brion, O'Bryan, O'Bryen, McBrien, McBrine, Brian, Briand, Briant, Brine, Brines, Briens and many more.

First found in Thomond, a territory comprised of most of County Clare with adjacent parts of counties Limerick and Tipperary. Prior to the 10th century, the sept was a Dalcassian Clan known as the Ui Toirdealbhaigh and achieved prominence with the rise of their eponymous ancestor, Brian Boru (941-1014), to the High Kingship of Ireland. Brian Boru, by far the most outstanding figure of this family, is widely acknowledged as the greatest of all the ancient Kings of Ireland and is best remembered for driving the Norsemen out of Ireland at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bryan research. Another 373 words(27 lines of text) covering the years 1551, 1369, 1400, 1577, 1663, 1690, 1614, 1674, 1642, 1678, 1640, 1692, 1699, 1771, 1600, 1651, 1642, 1717, 1692 and 1714 are included under the topic Early Bryan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 233 words(17 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bryan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Irish immigrants began to leave the English-controlled Ireland in sizable numbers during the late 18th century. Many of these Irish immigrated to British North America or the United States in the hopes of gaining their own tract of farmland. This pattern of migration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine caused a great exodus of immigrants to North America. These immigrants differed from their predecessors in that they were desperately fleeing the disease and starvation that plagued their homeland, and many were entirely destitute when they arrived in North America. Although these penniless immigrants were not warmly welcomed when they arrived, they were critical to the rapid development of the United States and what would become known as Canada. Many went to populate the western frontiers and others provided the cheap labor the new manufacturing sector and the building of bridges, roads, railways, and canals required. A thorough examination of immigration and passenger lists has revealed some of the earliest people to arrive in North America with name Bryan or one of its variants:

Bryan Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Edw Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1620
  • Joseph Bryan, aged 20, landed in Barbados in 1634
  • Jo Bryan, aged 25, landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Dermond Bryan, aged 20, landed in Barbados in 1635
  • Henry Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1639

Bryan Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Wm Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1702
  • Daniell Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Margarett Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1705
  • Sarah Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • Morris Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1715

Bryan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Anne Bryan, who landed in Connecticut in 1811
  • Garret Bryan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812
  • Jos Bryan, aged 41, arrived in Virginia in 1812
  • Simon Bryan, who arrived in America in 1812
  • Bernard Bryan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816

Bryan Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Sam Bryan, who arrived in Arkansas in 1900


  • William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), American orator and politician, who was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson
  • Kirk Bryan (1888-1950), American geologist
  • Arthur Q Bryan (1899-1959), American actor, best known as the voice of Elmer Fudd
  • Richard Hudson Bryan (b. 1937), American politician, Governor of Nevada and a US Senator from Nevada
  • Lieutenant-General Blackshear Morrison Bryan (1900-1977), American Commanding General 1st Army (1957-1960)
  • Sir Andrew Bryan FRSE (1893-1988), Scottish mining engineer
  • Sir Arthur Bryan (1923-2011), British former Chairman of Wedgewood
  • Dora Bryan OBE (b. 1923), English actress of stage, film and television
  • Lance-Corporal Thomas Bryan VC (1882-1945), English recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • John Bryan (1911-1969), Academy Award-winning British art director and movie producer



  • History of the Bryan-Cole Family in America by Winfred Bryan Cole.
  • Thomas Bryan and Some of His Descendants by Leslie Aulls Bryan.
  • Bryans, Hortons, and Allied Families by Elizabeth Cate Manly.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Lamh laidir an Uachtar
Motto Translation: The strong hand from above.


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  1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  4. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  8. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  9. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  11. ...

The Bryan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bryan Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 13 February 2014 at 19:47.

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