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


The name Bristow came to England with the ancestors of the Bristow family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bristow 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 Bristow 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]

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Bristow, Bristol, Bristoe, Bristo, Bristowe and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bristow 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 Bristow 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 Bristow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Bristow or a variant listed above:

Bristow Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Bristow settled in Virginia in 1607
  • Richard Bristow, who landed in Connecticut in 1650
  • Eliz Bristow, who landed in Virginia in 1653
  • Robert Bristow, who arrived in Virginia in 1660
  • Robert Bristow of Gloucester county in Virginia in 1660


Bristow Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Alice Bristow, who arrived in Virginia in 1715
  • James Bristow settled in the Carolinas in 1724
  • Margaret Bristow settled in Rappahanock Virginia in 1729
  • John Bristow settled in Virginia in 1741
  • John Bristow, who arrived in America in 1792

Bristow Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Bristow, who arrived in New York in 1832
  • Sarah Bristow, aged 4, landed in New York in 1854
  • Joseph Bristow, aged 31, arrived in New York in 1854
  • Fanny Bristow, aged 2, arrived in New York in 1854
  • Anne Bristow, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1854

Bristow Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Harry Isenhour Bristow, who landed in Colorado in 1900

Bristow Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Robert Bristow arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836
  • janet Bristow arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836
  • Eliza Bristow arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836
  • George William Bristow arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836
  • Henry Bristow, aged 29, a brushmaker, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Calphurnia" in 1849


Bristow Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Amelia Bristow, aged 15, a servant, arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Siberia" in 1870
  • A. Bristow, aged 44, a grocer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ben Venu" in 1880

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  • George Gates Bristow (1870-1939), American Major League Baseball outfielder
  • Francis Marion Bristow (1804-1864), American politician, United States Representative from Kentucky
  • Allan Mercer Bristow Jr. (b. 1951), retired American professional NBA basketball player, coach, and executive
  • Patrick Bristow (b. 1962), American actor and comedian
  • Bill Bristow, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Governor of Arkansas, 1998
  • Benjamin Helm Bristow (1832-1896), American Republican politician, Member of Kentucky State Senate, 1863-65; U.S. Attorney for Kentucky, 1866-70; U.S. Solicitor General, 1870-72; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, 1874-76
  • Allen J. Bristow, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kentucky, 1860
  • Mrs. E. E. Bristow, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kentucky, 1928
  • Edward Lyell Bristow, American politician, U.S. Consular Agent in Port Said, 1914-19
  • Francis Marion Bristow (1804-1864), American politician, Member of Kentucky State House of Representatives, 1831-33; Member of Kentucky State Senate, 1846; U.S. Representative from Kentucky 3rd District, 1854-55, 1859-61

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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. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  2. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  3. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  5. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  6. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  7. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  8. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  11. ...

The Bristow Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bristow 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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