Brittain History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Brittain is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Brittain family lived in Devon. The name is a reference to the French province of Brettagne or Brittany, from where this family arrived in 1066. [1]

Early Origins of the Brittain family

The surname Brittain was first found in Devon, where they held a family seat from the 11th century. Originating in Brittany, [2] the name was introduced to England in 1066 with Auvrai le Breton being present at the Norman Conquest in 1066 under the banner of Alain le Roux. William the Conqueror rewarded Auvrai for his service with lordships in Devon. Later some of the family were found at Great Witchingham in Norfolk. "The church is a handsome structure, chiefly in the later English style, with a lofty square embattled tower [holds the remains of] John Britton, Bishop of Hereford, who died in 1275." [3]

Early History of the Brittain family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brittain research. Another 212 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1164, 1166, 1166, 1248, 1279, 1379, 1599, 1654, 1771, 1806, 1294, 1297, 1644, 1714 and are included under the topic Early Brittain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brittain Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Brittoner, Brettoner, Brittany, Briton, Breton, Bretun, Bruton, Bretener, Bretoner, Brettner, Brittain and many more.

Early Notables of the Brittain family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Ranulph le Breton, canon of St. Pauls in the 13th century; William Briton, a prominent theologian of the 14th century; a bearer of Britain, who was...
Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Brittain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Brittain family to Ireland

Some of the Brittain family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Brittain migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Brittain or a variant listed above were:

Brittain Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Brittain, who landed in Maryland in 1661 [4]
  • Sarah Brittain, who landed in Maryland in 1663 [4]
  • Lionel Brittain, who arrived in New Jersey in 1680 [4]
  • Lyonel Brittain, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1680 [4]
  • Lionel Brittain, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth, who settled in New Jersey in 1680
Brittain Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles Brittain, who settled in Virginia in 1720
  • Ann Brittain, a bonded immigrant who settled in Virginia in 1726
Brittain Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Benjamin Brittain, who arrived at the port of Philadelphia in 1800
  • Mr Brittain, aged 30, who arrived in America in 1822 [4]
  • Joseph Brittain, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1828 [4]
  • Richard Brittain, aged 26, who arrived in Missouri in 1844 [4]
  • C W Brittain, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Brittain migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Brittain Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Lt. James Brittain U.E. born in New Jersey, USA who settled in Greenwich, Kings County, New Brunswick c. 1783 he served as part of the New Jersey Volunteers [5]

Australia Brittain migration to Australia +

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

Brittain Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Stephen Brittain, English convict from Bedford, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on July 29th, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [6]
  • William Brittain, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "British Empire" [7]
  • William Brittain, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "British Empire" in 1850 [7]
  • Sarah Brittain, aged 24, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "British Empire" in 1850 [7]
  • Joseph Brittain, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "British Empire" in 1850 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Brittain 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:

Brittain Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Brittain, aged 20, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgeway" in 1840
  • Mr. William Brittain, (b. 1820), aged 20, British settler travelling from England aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th November 1840 [8]
  • Charles Brittain, aged 28, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Accrington" in 1863
  • Susan Brittain, aged 26, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Accrington" in 1863
  • George T. Brittain, aged 23, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Strathnaver" in 1874
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Brittain (post 1700) +

  • Paul Brittain (b. 1977), American actor and comedian, cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2010-2012
  • Marion Luther Brittain (1865-1953), American academic administrator, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1922 to 1944
  • Bill Brittain (b. 1930), American author
  • W. F. Brittain, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Wyoming, 1896 [9]
  • Todd Brittain, American politician, Supervisor of Leoni Township, Michigan, 2009 [9]
  • Joseph I. Brittain (1858-1930), American Republican politician, Member of Ohio State House of Representatives, 1892-95; U.S. Consul General in Coburg, 1913-14; Auckland, 1914-15; Sydney, 1915-19; Winnipeg, 1919-24 [9]
  • John E. Brittain, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 1908 [9]
  • Benjamin S. Brittain, American politician, Member of North Carolina State Senate from Macon County, 1832-35 [9]
  • A. R. Brittain, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1904 [9]
  • John V. "Johnny" Brittain (d. 2019), English motorcycle trials and enduro rider
  • ... (Another 12 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


Suggested Readings for the name Brittain +

  • 3486 "The Brittain Family in America" by Virginia Thompson Britain.

  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 151 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1823
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BRITISH EMPIRE 1850. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850BritishEmpire.htm
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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