Show ContentsMcBrien History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The old Gaelic name used by the McBrien family in Ireland was O Briain, which means descendant of Brian.

Early Origins of the McBrien family

The surname McBrien was first found in Thomond, a territory comprised of most of County Clare with adjacent parts of counties Limerick and Tipperary. Prior to the 10th century, the sept was a Dalcassian Clan known as the Ui Toirdealbhaigh and achieved prominence with the rise of their eponymous ancestor, Brian Boru (941-1014), to the High Kingship of Ireland. Brian Boru, by far the most outstanding figure of this family, is widely acknowledged as the greatest of all the ancient Kings of Ireland and is best remembered for driving the Norsemen out of Ireland at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

Early History of the McBrien family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McBrien research. Another 187 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1369, 1400, 1551, 1577, 1600, 1614, 1640, 1642, 1651, 1663, 1674, 1678, 1690, 1692, 1699, 1714, 1717 and 1771 are included under the topic Early McBrien History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McBrien Spelling Variations

Lacking standardized spellings, scribes and church officials recorded people's name according to how they sounded. This practice often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname McBrien are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include O'Brien, OBrine, O'Brion, O'Bryan, O'Bryen, McBrien, McBrine, Brian, Briand, Briant, Brine, Brines, Briens and many more.

Early Notables of the McBrien family

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Brian Sreamhach MacMathghamhna O'Brien, king of the Irish region of Thomond (1369-1400); Daniel O'Brien (1577-1663), member of the Supreme Council of Catholic Confederates; Daniel O'Brien (d. 1690), founder of the Irish Brigade known as Clare's Dragoons; Murrough McDermod O'Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin and 6th Baron Inchiquin (1614-1674); Henry O'Brien, Lord Ibrackan or Lord...
Another 63 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McBrien Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States McBrien migration to the United States +

Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name McBrien:

McBrien Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Cath McBrien, who landed in New York in 1854 [1]
  • Eliza McBrien, aged 18, who arrived in New York in 1854 [1]
  • John McBrien, aged 8, who landed in New York in 1854 [1]
  • Mary J McBrien, aged 4, who arrived in New York in 1854 [1]
  • Robert McBrien, aged 40, who landed in New York in 1854 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McBrien migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McBrien Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John McBrien, aged 18, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Eleanor McBrien, aged 15, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Francis McBrien, aged 46, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Mrs. Ann McBrien, aged 30 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "George" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in July 1847 [2]
  • Miss. Margaret McBrien who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec but died on Grosse Isle on 9th June 1847 [2]

Australia McBrien migration to Australia +

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

McBrien Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Anne McBrien, aged 27, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance" [3]

New Zealand McBrien 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:

McBrien Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William McBrien, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863
  • Mr. Thomas Mcbrien, (b. 1840), aged 25, British farm labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Eastern Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 4th January 1865 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name McBrien (post 1700) +

  • Scott McBrien (b. 1980), former American NFL and CFL football quarterback from Rockville, Maryland
  • Richard McBrien (b. 1936), American Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame
  • William C. McBrien (1889-1954), Canadian business owner and Chairman of the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC), eponym of the McBrien Building, Toronto
  • Neil McBrien, Australian educator and public servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Likely Herman "Like" McBrien OBE (1892-1956), Australian rules football administrator and politician
  • Frederick George "Fred" McBrien (1888-1938), Canadian lawyer, businessman, and politician from Ontario

Hillsborough disaster
  • John McBrien (1971-1989), Welsh student who was attending the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, Yorkshire when the stand allocated area became overcrowded and 96 people were crushed in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster and he died from his injuries [5]

The McBrien 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: Lamh laidir an Uachtar
Motto Translation: The strong hand from above.

  1. 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)
  2. Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 42)
  3. South Australian Register Wednesday 13th September 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Confiance 1854. Retrieved
  4. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  5. Hillsborough Victims (retreived 21st March 2021). Retreived from on Facebook