Bristol History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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.
Early Origins of the Bristol family
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." 
Interestingly, one of the first records of the family was found not in England, but Ireland. Ralph de Bristol (d. 1232), Bishop of Cashel, "is mentioned by William of Malmesbury as having granted fourteen days of indulgence to the Abbey of Glastonbury. He became the first treasurer of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, in 1219, and was consecrated bishop of Cashel in 1223. He died about the beginning of 1232." 
Early History of the Bristol family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bristol research. Another 132 words (9 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 and printed products wherever possible.
Bristol Spelling Variations
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.
Early Notables of the Bristol family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Nicholas Bristow, Custodian of the Crown Jewels; Richard Bristow (1538-1581), an English Catholic controversialist and Biblical scholar; Robert Bristow...
In the United States, the name Bristol is the 5,102nd most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. 
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
Bristol Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:
Bristol Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
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:
Bristol Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
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.