Birrens History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
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 Birrens. 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 Birrens 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 Birrens is de Bearnabhal.
Early Origins of the Birrens family
The surname Birrens 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 Birrens family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Birrens 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 Birrens History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Birrens Spelling Variations
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 Birrens revealed many spelling variations including Barnewall, Barnwall, Barnwill, Barnewill, Barnewell, Barnewelle, Barnwelle, Barnwell, Bernwell, Barneville and many more.
Early Notables of the Birrens 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 Birrens Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Birrens family to Ireland
Some of the Birrens 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.
Migration of the Birrens family
Ireland experienced a dramatic decrease in its population during the 19th century. This was in a great measure, a response to England's imperialistic policies. Hunger and disease took the lives of many Irish people and many more chose to leave their homeland to escape the horrific conditions. North America with its promise of work, freedom, and land was an extremely popular destination for Irish families. For those families that survived the journey, all three of these things were often attained through much hard work and perseverance. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Birrens: Nicholas Barnwel who settled in Barbados in 1679; John arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1798; Robert settled there in 1831; Thomas landed in New York state in 1823..
Related Stories +
The Birrens 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