Bressay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bressay is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bressay family lived in Cheshire. The name, however, refers to the family's residence in the town of Brecy in the Caen region of France prior their emigration at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066. [1]

Early Origins of the Bressay family

The surname Bressay was first found in Cheshire, where they held a family seat after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. The name was originally associated with the town of Brecy in the Caen region of France.

"The Cheshire family had many branches, from one of which descend the Brasseys now existing, and Brassey the eminent engineer." [2]

A family of Brescy, derived from the Sieur de Bracy, of Battle Abbey, was connected with the county of Chester in very early times. The oldest document discovered relative to Wistanston in Cheshire, is a deed, without date, "of William Malbank, Baron of Nantwich, in which he gives notice that he has received of Robert de Bracy, his black nephew, ye homage and service of three Kts. fees - viz: for Wistanaton, &c." [3]

Another noted source provides similar details along the same theme: "Robert de Breze and M. de Brece were among the one hundred and nineteen Norman gentlemen who defended Mont St. Michel, against the English in 1423; and three noble families of the name existed in the Duchy. It dates from the Conquest in England. William, son of Radulphus de Braceio (who occurs in a Norman charter of 1080), held Wistaton in Cheshire of the Barony of Nantwich; and the first mesne-lords of the manor, who bore its name, and continued till the time of Henry VI., are conjectured to have been the elder male branch of his descendants." [1]

Brace's Leigh, in Worcestershire, bears the name of another branch of the family, that can, with every probability, be traced back to the Domesday owner. "Warmedon and Eston were then held of the Bishop's manor of Norwiche by Urso d'Abitot and by Robert of him" (here follows a description of the property): "to which agreeth the book of tenures, temp. Ed. I., where Robert de Bracy held in Warmedon of William de Beauchamp" (who inherited Urso's domains). "Robert de Bracy 20 Ed. III., held in Warmedon the same land that Robert his ancestor had. In the Rotuli Hundredorum of 1272 I find entered Richard and Elias de Bracy, both of Oxfordshire; and William de Bracy, with his daughters Avicia and Joanna, of Kent. [1]

Further to the north in Scotland, Bressay, Burra, and Quarff is a parish in the county of Orkney and Shetland. "The island of Bressay, which is nearly six miles long, and varies in breadth from two to three miles." [4]

Early History of the Bressay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bressay research. Another 230 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1270, 1273, 1369, 1570, 1642, 1663, 1805, 1805 and 1870 are included under the topic Early Bressay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bressay Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Brassey, Brassy, Brecy, Braceio, Bresci, Braci, Bracy, Brassye and many more.

Early Notables of the Bressay family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Bressay family

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Bressay or a variant listed above: Thomas Brassey who arrived in Delaware in 1682.



  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.


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