Show ContentsBreckinridge History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Breckinridge name date back to the kingdom of Dalriada in ancient Scotland. Breckinridge was a name for someone who lived in the places named Brackenrig, in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. [1] This place name comes from the Northern Old English words, bracken and rigg (ridge). So, Breckinridge literally means "dweller by the bracken-covered bridge." [2] Bracken is a large fern which typically grows in moorland and is found on all continents except Antarctica and in all environments except deserts.

Early Origins of the Breckinridge family

The surname Breckinridge was first found in Lanarkshire, and Ayrshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times. In 1454, two records were found of the family: the yard of John of Bracanyyggis in Glasgow; and Johannes Brakanryg was sergeant of the upper baronie of Renffrew. A few years later, Robart Brakenrig witnessed a letter of reversion in 1504. [1]

While the Breckinridge family typically claim Scotland as their homeland, as one would expect northern England is also a place the family calls home. Cumbria (Cumberland) just south of the Scottish border included a listing of Nicholas de Bracanrig in the Subsidy Rolls for 1332. "There are five places named Brackenrigg in Cumberland and one in Lanarkshire [Scotland]. " [2]

Early History of the Breckinridge family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Breckinridge research. Another 108 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1454, 1454, 1748 and 1816 are included under the topic Early Breckinridge History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Breckinridge Spelling Variations

Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents Breckinridge has been spelled Brackenridge, Brachenridge, Brakenbury, Brackenrige, Brachenrige, Brecenrigg, Brecenrig, Breckinridge, Breckinrige, Breckinrigg, Breconrig, Breconrigg, Breckenrig, Breckenrigg, Braikinrigg, Braikinrig, Braikinridge and many more.

Early Notables of the Breckinridge family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Breckinridge Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Breckinridge family to Ireland

Some of the Breckinridge family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 38 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Breckinridge migration to the United States +

Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Breckinridge or a variant listed above:

Breckinridge Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Dunlop Breckinridge, who landed in Washington, DC in 1842 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Breckinridge (post 1700) +

  • John Breckinridge (1760-1806), American politician, United States Senator and US Attorney General
  • Mary Breckinridge (1881-1965), founder of the Frontier Nursing Service
  • James Breckinridge (1763-1833), Virginia lawyer and politician, Revolutionary War soldier and Brigadier-General in the War of 1812
  • Henry S. Breckinridge (1886-1960), American lawyer, politician, and Olympic fencer
  • Desha Breckinridge (1867-1935), editor and publisher of the Lexington Herald
  • John Cabell Breckinridge (1821-1875), American politician
  • James Breckinridge (1763-1833), American politician, Representative from Virginia, 1809-17 [4]
  • Henry Skillman Breckinridge (1886-1960), American Democratic Party politician, Assistant Secretary of War, 1913-16 [4]
  • Desha Breckinridge (1867-1935), American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kentucky, 1920, 1928, 1932 [4]
  • Clifton Rodes Breckinridge (1846-1932), American Democratic Party politician, U.S. Representative from Arkansas, 1883-89, 1890-95; U.S. Minister to Russia, 1894-97; Delegate to Arkansas State Constitutional Convention, 1917 [4]
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Breckinridge 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: Virtute et industria
Motto Translation: By valour and industry.

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. 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)
  4. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 5) . Retrieved from on Facebook