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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


Bristol is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bristol family lived in Gloucestershire, where the name is derived from the Old English words byrst and stow and when combined mean place by the bridge.

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The surname Bristol was first found in Surrey where they were anciently descended from Hamon aux Dents, Lord of Thorigny, who died in 1045. His son Hamon was at Hastings and became the Sheriff of Kent. His second son was ancestor of the Bristows through Stephen de Burstow about 1294. "Twyford Hall [in Twyford, Derbyshire] is the residence of the Bristowe family, who have been seated here from the early part of the 17th century." [1]

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Bristol 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 Bristol include Bristow, Bristol, Bristoe, Bristo, Bristowe and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bristol research. Another 263 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1538, 1581, 1662, 1706, 1698, 1701, 1797 and 1806 are included under the topic Early Bristol History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 91 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bristol Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Bristol, or a variant listed above:

Bristol Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Dan Bristol, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773

Bristol Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Mr. Bristol, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851

Bristol Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • George Bristol, English convict from Wiltshire, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Arthur Bristol, English convict from Leicester, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia

Bristol Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Bristol, aged 25, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arethusa" in 1879

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  • Mark Lambert Bristol (1868-1939), American Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, eponym of the USS Bristol (DD-453), a Gleaves class destroyer and the USS Bristol (DD-857), an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer
  • Wheeler Hutchison Bristol (1818-1904), American engineer, railroad executive and politician, New York State Treasurer from 1868 to 1871
  • Nathan Bristol (1805-1874), American merchant and politician, Member of the New York State Senate (1852-1853)
  • Johnny Bristol (1939-2004), American musician, songwriter and record producer for the Motown label in the late 1960s and early 1970s
  • James David Bristol (b. 1933), American former Major League Baseball manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, and San Francisco Giants
  • Arthur LeRoy Bristol Jr. (1886-1942), American Vice Admiral in the United States Navy, eponym of the USS Arthur L Bristol (DE-281), a destroyer escort
  • Joel Bristol, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Oneida County, 1801-02, 1808-09, 1811-12
  • Julius Bristol, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Southington, 1829, 1833
  • Leonard H. Bristol, American politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Windham, 1910
  • Miles C. Bristol, American politician, Candidate for supervisor of Dearborn Township, Michigan, 1930

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  • Bristol Genealogy by Warren Edwin Bristol.
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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: Vigilantibus non dormientibus
Motto Translation: For the vigilant not for the sleeping.

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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  2. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  6. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  7. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  8. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  11. ...

The Bristol Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bristol 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 26 February 2016 at 13:43.

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