Berens History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman surnames that came to Ireland in the 12th century. Ireland already had an established system of hereditary surnames, often the two traditions blended together quite well, but the incoming Anglo- Normans also brought with them local surnames, such as Berens. Local names were taken from the names of a place or a geographical feature where the person lived, held land, or was born, some from places in Normandy, or more typically, from England. Originally, the place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname if the place name began with a vowel or was eliminated entirely. The Berens family appears to have originally lived in either of the settlements called Barnwell in the English counties of Cambridge and Northumberland. The Gaelic form of the surname Berens is de Bearnabhal.
Early Origins of the Berens family
The surname Berens was first found in County Meath at Crickstown Castle. "De Bernvale, accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. He came from Lower Brittany, and was allied to the dukes of that province" 
Another source is more specific: "Sir Michael de Berneval, a scion of the family founded by the Norman knight, joined the English expedition fitted out against Ireland and affected a descent upon Beerhaven in County Cork. " 
"The Barons Trimleston, like the Viscounts Kingsland, descend from the De Bernevals of Brittany. Sir Christopher Barnewall of Crickstown, in the county of Meath, was Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland in 1445-1446. After the subjection of Ireland in the time of Henry II, Michael de Berneval, who served under Strongbow, obtained large grants of land at Beerhaven, County Cork, of which the O'Sullivans had been dispossessed. Here the Bernevals flourished in great prosperity until the reign of John, when the Irish rose against them, and destroyed every member of the family but one, who happened to be in London learning the law. The latter, returning to Ireland, was settled at Drumnagh, near Dublin, where his posterity remained until the reign of James I. " 
Early History of the Berens family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Berens research. Another 72 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1646, 1640, 1470, 1538, 1534, 1538, 1592, 1663, 1622, 1534, 1550, 1560, 1704, 1779, 1779, 1842, 1500, 1552, 1522, 1575, 1592 and 1663 are included under the topic Early Berens History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Berens Spelling Variations
During the lifetime of an individual person, his name was often spelt by church officials and medieval scribes the way it sounded. An examination of the many different origins of each name has revealed many spelling variations for the name: Barnewall, Barnwall, Barnwill, Barnewill, Barnewell, Barnewelle, Barnwelle, Barnwell, Bernwell, Barneville and many more.
Early Notables of the Berens family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the family up to this time was John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimleston (1470-1538), High Chancellor of Ireland; John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimlestown (1534-1538.)
Nicholas Barnewall, 1st Viscount Kingsland (1592-1663), who belonged to the family of Barnewall, or De Berneval. 
Sir Patrick Barnewall or Barnwall (d. 1622), was the eldest son of Sir Christopher Barnewall of Turvey, Gracedieu, and Fieldston, son of Sir Patrick, who in 1534...
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Berens Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Berens family to Ireland
Some of the Berens family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 114 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Berens migration to the United States +
In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil, which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops, landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit, starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish families left the country for British North America and the United States. The new immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name Berens:
Berens Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
- Hirman Berens who arrived in New York in 1785
- Hirman Berens, who landed in New York in 1785 
Berens Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Bernard Berens, who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1842
- Johann Heinrich Berens, who arrived in New Orleans in 1843
- Joh Hinr Berens, aged 46, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1843 
- Heinrich Berens, aged 28, who arrived in Texas in 1846 
- Heinrich Berens, who arrived in Texas in 1846
- ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Contemporary Notables of the name Berens (post 1700) +
- Norman Berens (b. 1934), American pharmaceutical company executive
- Ricky Berens (b. 1988), American Olympic gold medalist swimmer
- Hermann Berens (1826-1880), German classical composer of piano music
- Henry Hulse Berens, English Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company 1858-1863, eponym of Fort Berens, British Columbia, Canada
- Herbert Cecil Benyon Berens (b. 1908), British soldier, awarded the Military Cross in 1942, and former director of Hambros Bank
Related Stories +
The Berens Motto +
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: Malo mori quam foedari
Motto Translation: I would rather die than be disgraced.
- ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
- ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
- ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)