Bristow History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Bristow family

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]

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." [2]

Early History of the Bristow family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bristow 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 Bristow History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bristow Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Bristow 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...
Another 27 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bristow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bristow migration to the United States +

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, who settled in Virginia in 1607
  • Richard Bristow, who landed in Connecticut in 1650 [3]
  • Eliz Bristow, who landed in Virginia in 1653 [3]
  • Robert Bristow, who arrived in Virginia in 1660 [3]
  • Robert Bristow of Gloucester county in Virginia in 1660
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bristow Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alice Bristow, who arrived in Virginia in 1715 [3]
  • James Bristow, who settled in the Carolinas in 1724
  • Margaret Bristow, who settled in Rappahanock Virginia in 1729
  • John Bristow, who settled in Virginia in 1741
  • John Bristow, who arrived in America in 1792 [3]
Bristow Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Bristow, who arrived in New York in 1832 [3]
  • Sarah Bristow, aged 4, who landed in New York in 1854 [3]
  • Joseph Bristow, aged 31, who arrived in New York in 1854 [3]
  • Fanny Bristow, aged 2, who arrived in New York in 1854 [3]
  • Anne Bristow, aged 30, who arrived in New York in 1854 [3]
Bristow Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Harry Isenhour Bristow, who landed in Colorado in 1900 [3]

Australia Bristow migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bristow Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Robert Bristow, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836 [4]
  • janet Bristow, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836 [4]
  • Eliza Bristow, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836 [4]
  • George William Bristow, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Cygnet" in 1836 [4]
  • Henry Bristow, aged 29, a brushmaker, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Calphurnia" in 1849 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bristow migration to New Zealand +

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:

Bristow Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Bristow, (b. 1838), aged 24, British farm labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Echunga" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th December 1862 [6]
  • Miss Emma Bristow (Briston), (b. 1851), aged 15, British domestic servant travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 5th January 1867 [6]
  • Miss Caroline Bristow (Briston), (b. 1849), aged 17, British domestic servant travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 5th January 1867 [6]
  • Amelia Bristow, aged 15, a servant, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Siberia" in 1870
  • Miss Amelia Bristow, (b. 1854), aged 15, English general servant, from Surrey travelling from London aboard the ship "Siberia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st February 1870 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bristow (post 1700) +

  • 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
  • Gwen Bristow (1903-1980), American author and journalist
  • George Frederick Bristow (1825-1898), American composer
  • Deem Bristow (1947-2005), American actor and voice actor
  • Benjamin Helm Bristow (1832-1896), American lawyer and politician, first Solicitor General of the United States
  • Bill Bristow, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Governor of Arkansas, 1998 [8]
  • 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 [8]
  • ... (Another 28 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mrs. Selina Bristow (1872-1914), née Clayton English Third Class Passenger from Leeds, England, United Kingdom who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [9]
  • Mr. Charles Henry Bristow (1868-1914), English Third Class Passenger from Leeds, England, United Kingdom who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [9]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Harry Bristow (b. 1897), English Wireman serving for the Royal Navy from Willenhall, Staffordshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [10]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Robert Charles Bristow (d. 1912), aged 31, English Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett [11]
  • Mr. Harry Bristow (d. 1912), aged 33, English Saloon Steward from Looe, Cornwall who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [11]


The Bristow 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: Vigilantibus non dormientibus
Motto Translation: For the vigilant not for the sleeping.


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Cygnet arrived Holdfast Bay, Adealide Sept. 11, 1836. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1836Cygnet.htm
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The CALPHURNIA 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Calpurnia.htm
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  9. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  10. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  11. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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