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

Origins Available: French, German, Irish, Italian, Scottish

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

The Strongbownian invaders added their Norman conventions for surnames to the previously established Irish system for hereditary surnames. One of the most frequent forms of surnames for both cultures was the patronymic surname, which was formed from the name of the bearer's father or grandfather. The Norman tradition that the followers of Strongbow brought with them created such a surname through diminutive suffixes such as -ot, -et, -un, -in, or -el. Occasionally, two suffixes were combined to form a double diminutive, as in the combinations of -el-in, -el-ot, -in-ot, and -et-in. The Normans also formed patronymic surnames in a manner very similar to the Irish: they added a prefix to their father's name. These Anglo-Norman people, however, used the prefix Fitz-, which was derived from the French word fils, and ultimately from the Latin filius, which both mean son. Although this prefix probably originated in Flanders or Normandy, it can now only be found in Ireland. The surname Bernard is derived from the Germanic personal name Bernhard, which consists of the elements ber or bern, which mean bear, and hard, which means brave, handy, or strong.

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Medieval scribes and church officials spelled the names as they sounded, so a name was often spelled many different ways during the lifetime of a single person. The investigation of the origin of the name Bernard revealed many spelling variations including Bernard, Barnard, Bernyrd, Barnerd, Barnart, Barnert, Barnarde and many more.

First found in Westmorland, where they had been granted lands by King William for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.Sir Theophilus, a Norman knight, who assisted William the Conqueror in the conquest of England was succeeded by his son, Sir Dorbard, who took the surname Bernard. Sir Dorbard's descendants settled at Acornbank in the county of Westmorland, but stayed in good favor with the royalty. In 1172 King Henry II took Robert Fitz Bernard with him to Ireland, in the invasion of Ireland, and entrusted to his care the counties of Wexford and Waterford.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bernard research. Another 535 words(38 lines of text) covering the years 1115, 1148, 1320, 1702, 1738, 1903, 1672 and 1697 are included under the topic Early Bernard History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 21 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bernard Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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During the middle of the 19th century, Irish families often experienced extreme poverty and racial discrimination in their own homeland under English rule. Record numbers died of disease and starvation and many others, deciding against such a fate, boarded ships bound for North America. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Unfortunately, many of those Irish that arrived in Canada or the United States still experienced economic and racial discrimination. Although often maligned, these Irish people were essential to the rapid development of these countries because they provided the cheap labor required for the many canals, roads, railways, and other projects required for strong national infrastructures. Eventually the Irish went on to make contributions in the less backbreaking and more intellectual arenas of commerce, education, and the arts. Research early immigration and passenger lists revealed many early immigrants bearing the name Bernard:

Bernard Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • William Bernard, who landed in Virginia in 1625
  • Samuel Bernard, aged 1, landed in New England in 1634
  • Samuell Bernard, aged 1, arrived in America in 1634
  • John Bernard who arrived in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1634
  • Jno Bernard, who arrived in New England in 1634


Bernard Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • David Bernard, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1700
  • David Bernard arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1700
  • Joseph Bernard, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Claude Bernard, who arrived in Louisiana in 1719
  • Pierre Bernard, aged 18, landed in Louisiana in 1720


Bernard Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Andre Bernard, who arrived in Louisiana in 1805
  • Mr. Bernard, who landed in New Orleans, La in 1813
  • Richard Bernard who arrived in New York City in 1816
  • Richard Bernard, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • Simon Bernard, who landed in New York in 1822


Bernard Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Friedrich Bernard who arrived in Kentucky between 1881 and 1900

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  • Lawrence Bernard (b. 1927), American editor
  • Marvin Aaron Bernard (b. 1934), American film company executive
  • Walter Joseph Bernard (b. 1923), American research scientist
  • Charles Taylor Bernard (b. 1927), American dry cleaning company executive
  • Cicero Henry Bernard (b. 1906), American educator
  • Harold Grady Bernard (b. 1938), American state official
  • Hugh Yancey Bernard Jr. (b. 1919), American librarian and educator
  • Hon. Charles Brodrick Amyas Bernard, twin to the Earl of Brandon
  • Dallas Edmund Bernard, Director, Morgan Grenfell Holdings Ltd
  • Claude Bernard (1813-1878), French physiologist

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  • Bernard Grandparen.
  • Back to 300 B.C. by Ted Butler Bernard.
  • Ellen Elizabeth Haynes: The New England Ancestry of Ellen Elizabeth Haynes (including the Bernard Family) by Elizabeth Fjetland.
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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: Virtus probata florebit
Motto Translation: Tried virtue will flourish.

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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  2. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  3. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  4. 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.
  5. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  8. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  10. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  11. ...

The Bernard Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bernard 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 3 March 2014 at 10:02.

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