Brisben History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The rugged western mountains of Scotland's coastline and the Hebrides islands were home to the ancestors of the Brisben family. Brisben was originally a name for a person who had sustained a broken bone. This surname derived from the Old French word, briser, which means to break, and the Old English word, bàn, which means bone. [1] This was also a nickname, given to a person who was often involved in fights, which resulted in the breaking of bones. Members of the Brisben family were found in the county of Renfrew (now part of the Strathclyde region), in Scotland, where the family can trace its origin to shortly after the Norman Conquest, in 1066.

Alternatively, the name could have derived from "a place where courts were held; brys, a trial at law, and bann, a mount; breasban, the royal mount. The family of Brisbane is of considerable antiquity; the present descendants are in possession of an elbow chair made of oak, having the family arms, with the date 1357 carved on the back." [2]

Early Origins of the Brisben family

The surname Brisben was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Friù), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland.

"Probably the first of the name in Scotland was William Brisbone, whose name appears on a list of archers sent from Berwick to Roxburgh in 1298. Thomas Brisbane or de Birsbane had a charter in Aberdeenshire from Robert I. Alanus dictus Brisbane filius quondam Willelmi Brisbane shortly after 1334 obtained a grant from Donald, earl of Lennox of the land called Mucherach in the earldom of Levenax and of the land called Holmedalmartyne (Levenax, p. 61). In 1358 there is entry of a payment to Alexander Brysban (ER., I, p. 549), and in 1376 Herthornhill was leased to Thomas Brisbane (RHM., I, p. lxvii). Alan Brysban witnessed a charter of the lands of Ballebrochyr and Lechard, c. 1390-1400 ( Lennox, II, p. 52). Another Thomas Brysbane, dominus de Latheris, in 1415 witnessed the charter of the barony of Cowie to William de Haya de Erole (SCM., II, p. 321), and in 1417 was present at a perambulation of the lands of Tarwas and Wldny (Udny) (RAA., II, 53). James Birsbane was proprietor of the lands of Reise and Akirgyll in Caithness, 1498 (Laing, 235). The surname is found in Aberdeen in 1401 (CRA., p. 382), in Perth, 1409 (REB., I, 26; II, 16), and in Edinburgh from 1610 onwards as Brisbain, Brisbaine, and Brisben (Edinb. Marr.). The Brisbanes of Bishoptoun acquired the lands of Killincraig and Goga in the parish of Largs, c. 1400. By a Crown charter, dated 1695, the estate was erected into the barony of Brisbane (Ayr Fam., I, p. 136), which thenceforth became the usual territorial designation of the family, 'Brisbane of Brisbane.' Alexander Bisbane, burgess of Dundee, 1674 (Brechin) was doubtless a Brisbane, and so likewise Agnes Bursbean in Colhowis of Dennie, 1622. [1]

"In 1332, William Brisbane was Chancellor of Scotland." [3]

Today Brisbane, the capital of the Australian state of Queensland is pronounced "Brisbin." The city is named for the Brisbane River, which is in turn named for Sir Thomas Brisbane (1773-1860), the Scottish-born, 6th Governor of New South Wales at the time of the city's founding.

Early History of the Brisben family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brisben research. Another 76 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1332, 1706, 1769, 1829, 1807, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1790, 1793, 1794, 1774, 1826, 1787, 1794, 1796, 1797, 1801, 1776, 1750, 1766, 1758, 1773, 1773, 1860, 1773, 1812, 1789, 1790, 1792, 1793, 1793, 1793 and 1795 are included under the topic Early Brisben History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brisben Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are a very common occurrence in records of early Scottish names. They result from the repeated and inaccurate translations that many names went through in the course of various English occupations of Scotland. Brisben has been spelled Brisbane, Brisbine, Birsbain, Birsbaine, Brisblane, Birsben, Brisbin, Birsban and many more.

Early Notables of the Brisben family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Margaret Brisbane, 5th Lady Napier (died 1706), née Napier, a Scottish peer. Sir Charles Brisbane (1769?-1829), rear-admiral, fourth son of Admiral John Brisbane, who died 1807, was in 1779 entered on board the Alcide, commanded by his father, was present at the defeat of the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent, and the relief of Gibraltar in January 1780, and afterwards in the West Indies. In the end of 1781 he was placed on board the Hercules with Captain Savage, and was present in the action of Dominica, 12 April 1782, where he was...
Another 595 words (42 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Brisben Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Brisben migration to the United States +

The hardy Scots who made the crossing settled all along the east coast of North America and in the great west that was just then opening up. At the time of the American War of Independence, many United Empire Loyalists moved north from the American colonies to Canada. Scottish national heritage became better known in North America in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic events. An examination of immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Brisben arrived in North America very early:

Brisben Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Margaret Brisben, who arrived in Maryland in 1664
  • Margaret Brisben, who arrived in Maryland in 1664 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Brisben (post 1700) +

  • J. Quinn Brisben (b. 1934), American politician, Candidate for Vice President of the United States, 1976; Candidate for President of the United States, 1992 [5]


The Brisben 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: Certamine summo
Motto Translation: In the battle's height.


  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. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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