Bryan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the name Bryan began when it was derived from Brian an Old Norman name, but may also be traced further back to its original form Brjan.

Early Origins of the Bryan family

The surname Bryan was first found in Denbigh, a market town in Denbighshire, North Wales. "The great baronial house of Bryan became extinct in the male line at the death in 1390 of Guy de Bryan, Baron Bryan who served as standard bearer to Edward III in the celebrated fight with the French at Calais. " [1]

Another source claims the name came from three locations: Tor-Bryan in Devon; Langheren, in South Wales, and at Woodford Castle, county Dorset. "Of this family was the chivalrous Sir Guy Bryan, Lord Bryan, K.G. temp. Edward III., and standard bearer at the celebrated battle of Calais. " [2]

This source continues "The Christian name Guy was frequent in the family." Yet another source claims a similar story with a different surname spelling. In this case, this source is referring to the parish of Slapton in Devon. "This place belonged to Sir Guy de Brien, Knt., standardbearer to Edward III., whom he attended at the battle of Calais in 1349, on which occasion, having greatly distinguished himself by his intrepidity, he was rewarded with a grant of 200 marks per annum, payable out of the exchequer during his life. Sir Guy founded a chantry in the church for a rector and four priests, and endowed it with £10 per annum in land, and with the advowson of the living." [3]

"Slapton [Devon] belonged to the ancient family of De Brian as early as the reign of Henry II., and descended to the Percy Earls of Northumberland, as the representative of Sir Guy de Brian the younger, through the sole heiress. Guy de Brian, one of the first Knights of the Garter, founded a collegiate chantry at Slapton in 1373, and the remains of his house are known as Poole Priory." [4]

"Tor Brian [in Devon] is linked with several names of note, the most famous of its early lords being one of the foremost of Devon's worthies. Sir Guy de Brian, standard-bearer to Edward III., did such service at Calais that he had a grant of 200 marks yearly out of the Exchequer. In 1354 he went to Rome with Henry, Duke of Lancaster, to procure a ratification of the league between England and France from the Pope. In 1370 he again served in France, and in the same year illustrated his many-sided character still further by becoming Admiral of the king's fleet. Edward showed his esteem for Sir Guy by choosing him one of the Knights of the Garter. De Brian served Richard II. with equal success in France and in Ireland, by land and by sea, in the camp and in the court. He founded and endowed a collegiate church in his manor of Slapton, already noted, and died at an advanced age in 1391, leaving two granddaughters only. " [4]

Early History of the Bryan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bryan research. Another 258 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1086, 1296, 1296, 1150, 1694, 1500, 1471, 1500, 1518, 1490, 1549, 1676, 1662, 1699, 1621, 1668, 1699 and are included under the topic Early Bryan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bryan Spelling Variations

The Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, and therefore, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Bryan, Bryant, Brian, Breine, Brine, Bryand, Briand, Briant, Bryane and many more.

Early Notables of the Bryan family (pre 1700)

Notable of this family during the Middle Ages was Sir Thomas Bryan KS KB (died 1500), a British justice, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (1471-1500); and his son, Sir Thomas Bryan (died 1518) was an English courtier during the reign of Henry VIII; Sir Francis Bryan (ca. 1490-1549), English nobleman, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland; John Bryan, D.D...
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bryan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bryan World Ranking

In the United States, the name Bryan is the 487th most popular surname with an estimated 59,688 people with that name. [5] However, in Australia, the name Bryan is ranked the 786th most popular surname with an estimated 4,958 people with that name. [6] And in New Zealand, the name Bryan is the 848th popular surname with an estimated 862 people with that name. [7] The United Kingdom ranks Bryan as 513rd with 12,704 people. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Bryan family to Ireland

Some of the Bryan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 96 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bryan migration to the United States +

Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Bryan were among those contributors:

Bryan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edw Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1620 [9]
  • Jo Bryan, aged 25, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [9]
  • Henry Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1639 [9]
  • Alexander Bryan, who arrived in Connecticut in 1639 [9]
  • Morgan Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1642 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bryan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [9]
  • Daniell Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1704 [9]
  • Margarett Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [9]
  • Sarah Bryan, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [9]
  • Morris Bryan, who arrived in Virginia in 1715 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bryan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Anne Bryan, who landed in Connecticut in 1811 [9]
  • Garret Bryan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [9]
  • Jos Bryan, aged 41, who arrived in Virginia in 1812 [9]
  • Simon Bryan, who arrived in America in 1812 [9]
  • Bernard Bryan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bryan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Sam Bryan, who arrived in Arkansas in 1900 [9]

Canada Bryan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bryan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Bryan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • William Bryan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Amb Bryan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • William Bryan, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1778
  • Jane Bryan, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1778
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bryan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Brigitte Bryan, who landed in Quebec in 1823
  • Thomas Bryan, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Pallas" from Cork, Ireland
  • Biddy Bryan, aged 28, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Pallas" from Cork, Ireland
  • Catherine Bryan, aged 16, a servant, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Hibernia" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Peter Bryan, aged 25, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Leslie Gault" in 1833
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Bryan migration to Australia +

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

Bryan Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Miss Elinor Bryan, (Eleanore Mary), (b. 1762), aged 31, Irish convict who was convicted in Waterford, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Boddingtons" on 15th February 1793, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Miss Mary Bryan, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years , transported aboard the "Britannia III" on 18th July 1798, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [11]
Bryan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Michael Bryan, (Breen, O'Brien), (b. 1776), aged 25, Irish convict who was convicted in Queen's County, Ireland for life for stealing sheep, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1862 [12]
  • Miss Rose Bryan, (Brien, Francis), (b. 1791), aged 22, Irish country servant who was convicted in Cork, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Catherine" on 8th December 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Mr. Jeremiah Bryan, (b. 1783), aged 36, Irish labourer from Cork who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life for coining, transported aboard the "Canada" on 23rd April 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Mr. William Bryan, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dromedary" on 11th September 1819, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • Mr.Bryan Carroll, (Brian), (b. 1783), aged 36, Irish labourer who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Bencoolen" on 24th April 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia before being transferred to Tasmania via the "Admiral Cockburn" [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bryan 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:

Bryan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Bryan, who landed in Otako, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mr. John Bryan, (b. 1803), aged 44, Irish settler born in Waterford arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [17]
  • Mrs. Ann Bryan Née Shea, (b. 1810), aged 37, Irish settler travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [17]
  • Miss Ann "Annie" Bryan, (b. 1844), aged 3, Irish settler born in Waterford travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [17]
  • Mr. John Bryan, Jr., (b. 1846), aged 7, Irish settler born in Waterford travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [17]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Bryan migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [18]
Bryan Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Joseph Bryan, aged 20, who landed in Barbados in 1634 [9]
  • Mr. Joseph Bryan, (b. 1614), aged 20, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Hopewell" arriving in Barbados on 17th February 1634 [9]
  • Dermond Bryan, aged 20, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [9]
  • Mr. Henry Bryan, (b. 1614), aged 21, British settler travelling aboard the ship "Expedition" arriving in Barbados in 1636 [19]

Contemporary Notables of the name Bryan (post 1700) +

  • Lieutenant-General Blackshear Morrison Bryan (1900-1977), American Commanding General 1st Army (1957-1960) [20]
  • Kirk Bryan (1888-1950), American geologist
  • William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), American orator and politician, who was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson
  • Richard Hudson Bryan (b. 1937), American politician, Governor of Nevada and a US Senator from Nevada
  • Arthur Q Bryan (1899-1959), American actor, best known as the voice of Elmer Fudd
  • William E. Bryan Jr., American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 8½ aerial victories
  • Donald S. Bryan, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 13.3 aerial victories
  • Lance-Corporal Thomas Bryan VC (1882-1945), English recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Dora Bryan OBE (b. 1923), English actress of stage, film and television
  • Mrs. Merlita Bryan (b. 1851), born in Jamaica, British councillor, held the position of Sheriff of Nottingham, England from 2012-2013 and 2021, she was Lord Mayor in 2014, she started the Black Achievers Award in 2011
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Caroline Agnes Bryan (1893-1914), Canadian Third Class Passenger from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [21]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Leonard Bryan, British Leading Cook with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [22]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Leland Howard Bryan, American Seaman First Class from Texas, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [23]


Suggested Readings for the name Bryan +

  • History of the Bryan-Cole Family in America by Winfred Bryan Cole.
  • Thomas Bryan and Some of His Descendants by Leslie Aulls Bryan.
  • Bryans, Hortons, and Allied Families by Elizabeth Cate Manly.

  1. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  5. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  8. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/boddingtons
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Britannia
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  13. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 2nd January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/catherine
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canada
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dromedary
  16. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bencoolen
  17. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  18. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  19. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 29th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  20. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, November 3) Blackshear Bryan. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Bryan/Blackshear_Morrison/USA.html
  21. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  22. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  23. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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