Bree History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bree is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bree family lived in Berkshire where the local Brai is listed in the Domesday Book. Originally, the name, is a reference to the town of Bray, near Evereux, Normandy, where the family lived prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066. [1]

"Brea, [in Land's End, Cornwall] which some have supposed to have been the original seat of the family of Brea or Bray, is now a farm house." [2]

Early Origins of the Bree family

The surname Bree was first found in Northamptonshire where Sir Robert Bray who lived about the period of Richard I is thought to be the progenitor. "His great-grandson, Thomas, was lord of Thgunby, in the same county in the ninth of Edward II." [3]

"This name occurs in all the copies of the co-called Roll of Battel Abbey, and that a great family so designated migrated from Normandy at the period of the Conquest seems certain. Three places in that province are still called Brai; two in the arrondissement of Falaise, and one in that of Bernal." [4]

"William de Braye was one of the subscribing witnesses to the charter of Battle Abbey in 1088; but does not appear in Domesday. His name was derived from Bray, near Evreux. "Milo de Brai, father of Hugh Trussel, married, c. 1070, Litheuil, Viscountess of Troyes, and c. 1064, founded Longport Abbey, Normandy (Ordaric Vitalis). Milo de Brai, his son, was a crusader 1096 (Idem). In 1148 Richard de Braio held lands at Winchester from the Bishop (Winton Domesday). The De Brais possessed estates in Cambridge and Bedford 1165 [5]. A branch was seated in Devon in the thirteenth century." [1]

"In Bedfordshire we find Eaton Bray, in the hundred of Manshead, a village about four miles from Dunstaple. 'The family of Bray were of consequence in the county,' says Lysons, 'at an early period. Thomas de Bray was knight of the shire in 1289, and Roger de Bray in 1312. When they settled at Eaton-Bray, to which they gave their name, does not appear; but it was long before they were possessed of the manor. Edmund Bray, grandfather of Sir Reginald, the faithful minister of King Henry VII., was described as of this place, and it appears on record, that the parish was called Eaton-Bray in the reign of Edward III. It is probable that the Brays held the manor under the Barons Cantilupe and Zouche. " [6]

John Bray ( fl. 1377), was an early English "physician and botanist [who] received a pension of 100s. a year from William, Earl of Salisbury, which was confirmed by Richard II. He wrote a list of herbs in Latin, French, and English, 'Synonyma de nominibus herbarum.' This manuscript was formerly part of the collection of F. Bernard; it is now in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum. " [7]

"The manor of Rescaddock or Roscraddock, [St. Cleer, Cornwall] belonged anciently to the family of Bray. Trenowth was the seat of the ancient family of Bray, some of whom continued to reside here so late as the reign of Elizabeth." [2]

Early History of the Bree family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bree research. Another 285 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1260, 1500, 1700, 1440, 1503, 1644, 1656, 1730, 1790, 1883, 1794, 1868 and are included under the topic Early Bree History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bree Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Bree are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Bree include Bray, Braye, Braie, Brey, Breye, Brae and others.

Early Notables of the Bree family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Reginald Bray (c.1440-1503), English courtier, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under Henry VII. He was the second son of Sir Richard Bray, one of the privy council to Henry VI. "The father was of Eaton-Bray in Bedfordshire, and lies buried in the north aisle of Worcester Cathedral. "...
Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bree Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bree family to Ireland

Some of the Bree family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 68 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand Bree 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:

Bree Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Harriet Bree, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • Anna Bree, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • Bertha Bree, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • Reginald Bree, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • Alice Bree, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bree (post 1700) +

  • Dan Bree, American television producer, editor, known for Off the Hook: Extreme Catches (2012), Command Decisions (2004) and Ancient Ink (2008)
  • William A. Bree, American Democratic Party politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from New Haven; Elected 1912 [8]
  • Robert Bree (1759-1839), English physician, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1807, Fellow of the Royal Society in 1808 [9]
  • James Patrick Bree (b. 1997), English footballer who plays for Barnsley (2014-)
  • Herbert Bree (1828-1899), English cleric, Bishop of Barbados (1882-1899)
  • Jonathan Bree, New Zealand singer-songwriter and producer, co-founder of the indie pop group The Brunettes in 1998 and Lil' Chief Records in 2002
  • De Clan Bree (b. 1951), Irish independent politician, Sligo County Councillor (1974-), the joint longest-serving member of Sligo Borough Council
  • Bridget Bree, American actress, known for her role in Lunar Girl (2001)
  • James Bree (1923-2008), British film and television actor, probably best known for playing Gumbold in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • Andrew Bree (b. 1981), Northern Irish silver medalist breaststroke swimmer at the 2003 European Championships-Short Course
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Liber Niger Scutarii ("Black Book of the Exchequer"), containing reports by county on feudal holdings in England in 1166 (reign of Henry II)
  6. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  7. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 25) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  9. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 5 Feb. 2019


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