Birnays History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Birnays reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Birnays family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Birnays family lived in Norfolk, where they were established since the early Middle Ages. The family's name, however, derives from their former place of residence, the town of Bernai, in the department of Eure, Normandy. The popularity of this given name among Normans in the centuries immediately following the Norman Conquest of 1066 was greatly increased by virtue of its having been borne by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c.1090-1153) founder and abbott of a monastery at Clairvaux.

Early Origins of the Birnays family

The surname Birnays was first found in Norfolk, where they claim descent from Berney, in the hundred of North Greenhow. The local has been lost through the years, but the family held a family seat at Park Hall in the parish of Reedham. "The baronet's family are asserted to have been at Berney, near Walsingham, co, Norfolk at the time of the Norman Conquest a great improbability, although their very early settlement there cannot be questioned." [1] What we have confirmed is the family seat was "acquired by the marriage of Sir Thomas de Berney with Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir William de Reedham in the reign of Edward III. " [2]

Important Dates for the Birnays family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Birnays research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1620, 1622, 1668, 1622, 1693, 1706, 1688 and 1710 are included under the topic Early Birnays History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Birnays Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Berney, Berny, Bernay, Bernays, Bernys, Burney and others.

Early Notables of the Birnays family (pre 1700)

Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Birnays Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Birnays family to Ireland

Some of the Birnays family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Birnays family

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Birnays name or one of its variants: Clough Berny who settled in Virginia in 1635; William Burney, and his wife settled with their three sons, his mother and father William, in Louisiana in 1797.

Citations

  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
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