Breen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Irish name Breen has evolved from the Gaelic Mac Braoin or O Braoin.

Early Origins of the Breen family

The surname Breen was first found in County Kilkenny (Irish: Cill Chainnigh), the former Kingdom of Osraige (Ossory), located in Southeastern Ireland in the province of Leinster, where the family is descended through the Heremon line and claim to be direct descendants of King Niall of the Nine Hostages. They were known as the Lords of Brawney [1] and were an Ossory sept (Clann) seated near Knocktopher, Kilkenny, until they had to forfeit their lands by the Anglo Norman invasion of Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke in 1172. They were subsequently dispersed throughout Ireland.

Early History of the Breen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Breen research. Another 185 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1303, 1324, 1560 and 1625 are included under the topic Early Breen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Breen Spelling Variations

Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Breen dating from that time include Breen, Breene, Brean, Breane, Bruen, Brawney, O'Breen, O'Braoin and many more.

Early Notables of the Breen family (pre 1700)

Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Breen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Breen migration to the United States +

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Breen:

Breen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elizabth Breen, aged 3, who landed in Massachusetts in 1755 [2]
  • John Batiss Breen, aged 6, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1755 [2]
  • John Breen, aged 15, who landed in Massachusetts in 1755 [2]
  • Joseph Breen, aged 17, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1755 [2]
  • Molly Breen, aged 10, who landed in Massachusetts in 1755 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Breen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Francis Breen, who was on record in Delaware in 1812
  • Francis Breen, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812 [2]
  • Philip Breen, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1824 [2]
  • William Breen, who landed in New York in 1825 [2]
  • Philip Breen and his wife Anne, who were naturalized in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1830
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Breen migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Breen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Breen, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • Eliza Breen, aged 27, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • Ann Breen, aged 6, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • Patrick Breen, aged 4, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • James Breen, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Breen migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Breen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Breen, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Countess of Yarborough" in 1850 [3]
  • Miss Mary Breen, Irish country servant who was convicted in Wexford, Ireland for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Blackfriar" on 24th January 1851, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Miss Sarah Breen, (b. 1841), aged 10, Irish settler travelling with Mary Breen convict, transported aboard the "Blackfriar" on 24th January 1851, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Mary Breen, aged 22, a farm servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Epaminondas" [5]
  • Catherine Breen, aged 19, a farm servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Epaminondas" [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Breen 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:

Breen Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Michael Breen, aged 32, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Schiehallion" in 1872
  • John Breen, (b. 1845), aged 30, British labourer departing on November 18th 1874 aboard the ship "Rakaia" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand, on 7th February 1875
  • Andrew Breen, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Clarence" in 1875
  • John Breen, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hurunui" in 1877
  • Bessy Breen, aged 20, a cook, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gainsborough" in 1878
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Breen (post 1700) +

  • Bobby Breen (1927-2016), born Isadore Borsuk, Canadian-born, American actor and singer
  • Stephen Paul Breen (b. 1970), American nationally syndicated cartoonist who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, in 1998 and 2009
  • Joseph I. Breen (1890-1965), American film censor
  • George Breen (b. 1935), American Olympic freestyle swimmer
  • Fred M. Breen, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, 1930; Candidate for Circuit Judge in Michigan 28th Circuit, 1941, 1947 [6]
  • Francis J. Breen, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Bridgeport, 1918 [6]
  • Edward Joseph Breen (1899-1978), American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1936; Member of Iowa State Senate, 1937-41; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Iowa 6th District, 1942 [6]
  • Edward Grimes Breen (1908-1991), American Democrat politician, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio, 1945-48; U.S. Representative from Ohio 3rd District, 1949-51 [6]
  • Dorothy Breen, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 2000 [6]
  • Dennis A. Breen, American politician, Independent Candidate for U.S. Senator from New Jersey, 2000 [6]
  • ... (Another 32 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. James Irving  Breen (1892-1917), Canadian Able Seaman aboard the HMCS Musquash from Spanish Ship Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [7]
  • Mr. Samuel Gordon  Breen (1895-1917), Canadian Stoker aboard the HMCS Musquash from Spanish Ship Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [7]
HMS Royal Oak
  • John Breen, British Marine with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [8]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. James Breen, English Leading Fireman from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [9]


The Breen 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: Comnac an Ceane
Motto Translation: Fight for Right


  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) COUNTESS OF YARBOROUGH 1850. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850CountessYarborough.htm
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/blackfriar
  5. ^ South Australian Register Monday 26th December 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Epaminondas 1853. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/epaminondas1853.shtml.
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 1) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  7. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  8. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  9. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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