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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The name Briel comes from the Rhineland, an ancient region of Germany. In pre-medieval times, the Germans used only one name, but later they were forced by a growing population to adopt hereditary surnames; so as to remain distinct from the many others of the same first name. Local names were often chosen. They originally indicated land ownership, and frequently carried the prefix von, meaning "of" or "from," which is often taken as an indication of aristocratic lineage. Briel was a name for some one lived in the village of Briel, in the Rhineland. This place-name originated in the Dutch province of Brielle, and it referred to someone who was from Briel. The German surname was based upon the German word brüel which refers to a meadow with rich soils.


The surname Briel was first found in the lower Rhine region, where the name came from humble beginnings but gained a significant reputation for its contribution to the emerging mediaeval society. It later became more prominent as many branches of the same house acquired distant estates and branches, some in foreign countries, always elevating their social status by their great contributions to society. The name originates in the southern Dutch province of Brielle, and the Dutch form of the name is van der Briele, meaning "from Briel."

Many cultural groups lived in the German states in medieval times. Each had its own dialect and traditions, and unique variations of popular names. Low German, which is similar to contemporary Dutch, was spoken in Westphalia. German names are characterized by additions such as regional suffixes and phrases that tell something about the origin or background of its original bearer. Further contributing to the variation in German names was the fact that there were no spelling rules in medieval times: scribes recorded names according to their sound. The recorded spelling variations of Briel include Briel, Briell, Brielle, Briele, Brieler and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Briel research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 177 and 1775 are included under the topic Early Briel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Another 21 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Briel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Between the 17th and 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Europeans came to North America, and many Rhinelanders were among them. They had many various reasons for making the choice: to escape poverty and persecution, for adventure, and for the opportunity to own their own land. Ellis Island, one of the main American immigration centers, saw many settlers as they moved on to the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, and New York. In Canada, they found homes in Ontario, and on the great plains of the Midwestern provinces. The Briel were among of the early German families that came to North America:

Briel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Hermann Briel, who came to Philadelphia in 1754
  • Martin Briel came to Philadelphia in 1754
  • Henry Briel, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1765
  • Wiegand Briel, who arrived in New York, NY in 1782

Briel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Christine Briel, who landed in North America in 1832-1849
  • Conrad Briel, aged 35, arrived in Missouri in 1843
  • Eva Briel arrived in Texas in 1846
  • Marx Briel, who arrived in Mississippi in 1852
  • Mathias Briel, who landed in Arkansas in 1894

Briel Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

  • Alexis Briel, who arrived in Quebec in 1665

  • Georg Briel (1907-1980), German Oberstleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II, recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
  • Fritz Briel (b. 1934), German Olympic sprint canoer silver medalist
  • Jonatan Karl Dieter Briel (1942-1988), German director, screenplay author, and actor
  • Lou Briel (b. 1962), Puerto Rican singer, composer, comedian and producer

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    Other References

    1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    2. Jones, George F. The Germans of Colonial Georgia 1733-1783 Revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0806311614).
    3. Strassburger, Ralph B. German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
    4. Hildenbrand, A.M. Wappenfibel. Handbuch der Heraldik. Neustadt an der Aisch: 1970. Print.
    5. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
    6. Göbel, Otto. Niederdeutsche Familiennamen der Gegenwart Wolfshagen-Schäbentz. Franz: Westphal, 1936. Print.
    7. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
    8. Zoder, Rudolf. Familiennamen in Ostfalen. Hildesheim: Geog Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968. Print.
    9. Jones, Henry Z. Palatine Families of New York 2 Volumes. Rockland, ME: Picton Press, 2001. Print. (ISBN 978-0961388829).
    10. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Hopeful Journeys German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Print. (ISBN 978-0812215489).
    11. ...

    The Briel Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Briel Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 20 January 2015 at 12:48.

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