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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, French


The Bernier surname comes from the Norman given name Bernier, which is Germanic in origin, coming from "bern" meaning "bear," and "hari," or "army."

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The surname Bernier was first found in Surrey where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Therfield. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands in Essex at Roding Berniers (Roothing Berners) and Bernston who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. They are believed to be descended from Hugh de Berniers in Normandy near Falaise. They also held in Cambridge at Eversdon, his main domain. Rooting Berners "derives its distinguishing affix from Hugh de Berners, to whom the manor at one time belonged. " [1] The same gentleman held estates in Barnston, again in Essex. "The manor was held by Hugh de Berners and his descendants for many generations, and from them obtained its name Bernerstown, now corrupted into Bernston or Barnston." [1]

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Berner, Berners, Berniers, Burner, Burners, Burniers, Barners, Bearners and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bernier research. Another 313 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1265, 1510, 1600, 1504, 1467, 1533, 1495, 1529, 1516 and 1518 are included under the topic Early Bernier History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 83 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bernier Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Bernier or a variant listed above:

Bernier Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Johannes Bernier, who landed in Georgia in 1742

Bernier Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Mauricio Bernier, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1816
  • John J Lambert Bernier, who landed in New York in 1824
  • Herm Bernier, who arrived in America in 1848
  • F Bernier, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1855

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  • Sylvie Bernier (b. 1964), Canadian diver, gold medal winner at the 1984 Olympics
  • Georges Bernier (1929-2005), French humorist and founder of Hara Kiri magazine
  • Leo Edward Bernier (b. 1929), Canadian politician from Ontario
  • Étienne-Alexandre Bernier, French religious figure and Royalist politician during the French Revolution


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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  2. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  3. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  4. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  7. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  8. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  9. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  10. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  11. ...

The Bernier Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bernier 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 15 January 2014 at 11:06.

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