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

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


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.

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McBrien research. Another 373 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1551, 1369, 1400, 1577, 1663, 1690, 1614, 1674, 1642, 1678, 1640, 1692, 1699, 1771, 1600, 1651, 1642, 1717, 1692 and 1714 are included under the topic Early McBrien History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 233 words (17 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McBrien Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


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
  • Eliza McBrien, aged 18, arrived in New York in 1854
  • John McBrien, aged 8, landed in New York in 1854
  • Mary J McBrien, aged 4, arrived in New York in 1854
  • Robert McBrien, aged 40, landed in New York in 1854

McBrien Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • John McBrien, aged 18, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Eleanor McBrien, aged 15, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Francis McBrien, aged 46, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833

McBrien Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Anne McBrien, aged 27, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance"

McBrien Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • William McBrien arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863


  • 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


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.


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  1. 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).
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  9. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  10. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  11. ...

The McBrien Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McBrien 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 5 October 2015 at 19:42.

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