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

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

The name Bristow came to England with the ancestors of the Bristow family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bristow family lived in Gloucestershire, where the name is derived from the Old English words byrst and stow and when combined mean place by the bridge.

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Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Bristow, Bristol, Bristoe, Bristo, Bristowe and many more.

First found in Surrey where they were anciently descended from Hamon aux Dents, Lord of Thorigny, who died in 1045. His son Hamon was at Hastings and became the Sheriff of Kent. His second son was ancestor of the Bristows through Stephen de Burstow about 1294.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bristow research. Another 263 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1538, 1581, 1662, 1706, 1698, 1701, 1797 and 1806 are included under the topic Early Bristow History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 91 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bristow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Bristow or a variant listed above:

Bristow Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Bristow settled in Virginia in 1607
  • Richard Bristow, who landed in Connecticut in 1650
  • Eliz Bristow, who landed in Virginia in 1653
  • Robert Bristow, who arrived in Virginia in 1660
  • Robert Bristow of Gloucester county in Virginia in 1660


Bristow Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Alice Bristow, who arrived in Virginia in 1715
  • James Bristow settled in the Carolinas in 1724
  • Margaret Bristow settled in Rappahanock Virginia in 1729
  • John Bristow settled in Virginia in 1741
  • John Bristow, who arrived in America in 1792

Bristow Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Bristow, who arrived in New York in 1832
  • Sarah Bristow, aged 4, landed in New York in 1854
  • Joseph Bristow, aged 31, arrived in New York in 1854
  • Fanny Bristow, aged 2, arrived in New York in 1854
  • Anne Bristow, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1854

Bristow Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Harry Isenhour Bristow, who landed in Colorado in 1900

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  • Benjamin Helm Bristow (1832-1896), American lawyer and politician, first Solicitor General of the United States
  • Deem Bristow (1947-2005), American actor and voice actor
  • George Frederick Bristow (1825-1898), American composer
  • Gwen Bristow (1903-1980), American author and journalist
  • Patrick Bristow (b. 1962), American actor and comedian
  • Allan Mercer Bristow Jr. (b. 1951), retired American professional NBA basketball player, coach, and executive
  • Francis Marion Bristow (1804-1864), American politician, United States Representative from Kentucky
  • George Gates Bristow (1870-1939), American Major League Baseball outfielder
  • Henry William Bristow (1817-1889), English geologist
  • Alan Edgar Bristow OBE, FRAeS (1923-2009), English founder of Bristow Helicopters Ltd, one of the world's largest helicopter service companies

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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: Vigilantibus non dormientibus
Motto Translation: For the vigilant not for the sleeping.

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  1. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  2. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  3. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  4. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  8. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Bristow Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bristow 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 9 July 2014 at 17:06.

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