Birres History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Birres is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is a product of when the family lived in Devon, where they took their name from one of the many places named Bear, Beare, Beara, etc., found in that county. The surname is likely to be derived from the Old English word bearu, which means grove. Several early instances of that name are in the form le beare, or the bear, from the Old English bera. [1]

"A gentleman in Kent, some years since, rejoiced in the Christian and sur-(or rather un-Christian and sur-ly)names of Savage Bear (English Sum.) Although I do not recollect any other instance of this name in modern English, the nomenclature of many European countries, both personal and local, abounds with it in various forms." [2]

Early Origins of the Birres family

The surname Birres was first found in Devon where there are two places on the banks of Tamar called Beer-Alston and Beer-Ferris. In Dorset, place names include Beer-Hacket and Beer-Regis. [2] The earliest reference of the name was in Devon where it was listed as Bera in the Domesday Book [3]

"Two places on the banks of the Tamar, in co. Devon, are called Beer-Alston and Beer-Ferris, while two others in Dorsetshire bear the names of Beer-Hacket and Beer-Regis." [2]

In nearby Cornwall, another early listing of the family was found in the parish of St. Ervan. "Treravel, an ancient gentleman's seat, belonged in the days of Hals to George Bere or Beare, gentleman, who married Lanyon. This is now a farm house, the property of John Hicks, Esq." [4] The barton of Brynn, in the parish of Withiel, Cornwall was formerly a seat of the family of Beare, from whom it passed some time ago.

Early English rolls provide us a glimpse of the spelling variations used through Medieval times. Today we typically need to look beyond the spellings of these entries and concentrate on on a phonetic appreciation of the names. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Robert le Ber, Kent; Adam le Bere, Cambridgeshire; Clement le Bere, Oxfordshire; Walter le Bere, Oxfordshire; Lucy de la Bere, Devon; Elyas dela Byare, Devon; John de la Byare, Devon; and Reginald de Bere, Devon. [5]

In Somerset, John de Bere and Robert atte Bere were listed there 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [6]

Early History of the Birres family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Birres research. Another 171 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1207, 1534, 1614, 1713, 1634, 1680, 1684, 1799, 1354, 1355, 1524 and 1493 are included under the topic Early Birres History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Birres Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Birres has been spelled many different ways, including Beare, Bear, Beer, Bere, Beares, Bears, Beers and many more.

Early Notables of the Birres family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Richard de la Bere, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1354 and 1355. Richard Bere (d. 1524), was Abbot of Glastonbury and was installed in 1493 as the election of Thomas Wasyn having been quashed by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. "He was a great builder. Leland tells us that...
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Birres Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Birres family

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Birress to arrive in North America: Christopher and Mary Bere, who settled on the eastern seaboard at a very early time with their two daughters Mary and Elizabeth. They settled in Georgia in the 17th century. Walter and Ann Beare settled in Virginia in 1620.



  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  4. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  5. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.


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