Branagh History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

With the arrival of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 11th century came new naming traditions to the eastern region of Ireland. These new naming traditions actually meshed fairly well with the pre-existing Irish traditions. Both cultures made significant use of hereditary surnames. And like the native Irish, the Strongbownians often used prefixes to build patronymic surnames, which are names based on the given name of the initial bearer's father or another older relative. Strongbow's followers often created names that were built with the prefix Fitz-, which was derived from the French word fils, and ultimately from the Latin filius, both of which mean son. They also used diminutive suffixes such as -ot, -et, -un, -in, or -el, and occasionally even two suffixes combined to form a double diminutive such as -el-in, -el-ot, -in-ot, and -et-in, to build patronymic names. The surname Branagh is derived from Breat(h)nach which literally means Welshman. Phillip Brenagh, known as "Phillip the Welshman" was likely the progenitor of the family. Phillip and his brother David arrived with Strongbow, in 1170.

Early Origins of the Branagh family

The surname Branagh was first found in Counties Kilkenny, Leix, and Waterford, in Ireland, where they held a family seat from 1170.

Early History of the Branagh family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Branagh research. Another 129 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1170, 1606, 1615, 1618, 1688, 1604, 1580, 1654, 1618 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Branagh History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Branagh 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: Walsh, Welsh, Welch, Brannagh and others.

Early Notables of the Branagh family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was Rev. Peter Walsh (1618-1688), who wrote "The Loyal Remonstrance"; for which he was excommunicated from the Franciscan Order; John Walsh...
Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Branagh Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada Branagh migration to Canada +

Ireland's Great Potato Famine left the country's inhabitants in extreme poverty and starvation. Many families left their homeland for North America for the promise of work, freedom and land ownership. Although the Irish were not free of economic and racial discrimination in North America, they did contribute greatly to the rapid development of bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Eventually, they would be accepted in other areas such as commerce, education, and the arts. An examination of immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name Branagh:

Branagh Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Branagh, aged 22, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the schooner "Sarah" from Belfast, Ireland

New Zealand Branagh migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Branagh Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Branagh, (b. 1841), aged 21, Irish farm labourer from Antrim travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd May 1862 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Branagh (post 1700) +

  • Nicole Branagh (b. 1979), American volleyball player
  • Kenneth Charles Branagh (b. 1960), four-time Academy Award nominated Northern Irish actor and film director


The Branagh 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: Transfixus sed non mortuus
Motto Translation: Transfixed but not dead.


  1. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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