O'Brian History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the O'Brian family

The surname O'Brian 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 O'Brian family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Brian research. Another 187 words (13 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 O'Brian History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Brian Spelling Variations

Irish names recorded during the Middle Ages are characterized by many spelling variations. This preponderance of variations for common names can be explained by the fact that the scribes and church officials that kept records during that period individually decided how to capture one's name. These recorders primarily based their decisions on how the name was pronounced or what it meant. Research into the name O'Brian revealed many variations, including O'Brien, OBrine, O'Brion, O'Bryan, O'Bryen, McBrien, McBrine, Brian, Briand, Briant, Brine, Brines, Briens and many more.

Early Notables of the O'Brian family (pre 1700)

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 O'Brian Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States O'Brian migration to the United States +

Irish immigrants began to leave the English-controlled Ireland in sizable numbers during the late 18th century. Many of these Irish immigrated to British North America or the United States in the hopes of gaining their own tract of farmland. This pattern of migration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine caused a great exodus of immigrants to North America. These immigrants differed from their predecessors in that they were desperately fleeing the disease and starvation that plagued their homeland, and many were entirely destitute when they arrived in North America. Although these penniless immigrants were not warmly welcomed when they arrived, they were critical to the rapid development of the United States and what would become known as Canada. Many went to populate the western frontiers and others provided the cheap labor the new manufacturing sector and the building of bridges, roads, railways, and canals required. A thorough examination of immigration and passenger lists has revealed some of the earliest people to arrive in North America with name O'Brian or one of its variants:

O'Brian Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Dennis Obrian, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [1]
  • Dermitt Obrian, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [1]
  • Archibald O'Brian, who settled in Virginia in 1773
O'Brian Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James, John, Patrick, Timothy, and William O'Brian all, who arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860

Australia O'Brian migration to Australia +

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

O'Brian Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Peter O'brian, (b. 1819), aged 19, Irish labourer born Westermeath, Ireland who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years for house breaking, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 24th March 1838, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Miss. Bridget O'Brian, British Convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 9th March 1847, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [3]
  • Miss. Mary O'Brian (Faucit), British Convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 9th March 1847, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [3]

New Zealand O'Brian 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:

O'Brian Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas O'Brian, (b. 1858), aged 20, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Western Monarch" arriving in New Zealand in 1879 [4]
  • Mr. Michael O'Brian, (b. 1859), aged 19, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Western Monarch" arriving in New Zealand in 1879 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Brian (post 1700) +

  • Hugh O'Brian (1925-2016), born Hugh Charles Krampe, an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1961)
  • John Dennis Patrick O'Brian (1914-2000), American entertainment journalist and television critic for New York Journal American, a supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy
  • Conor O'Brian (b. 1980), ring name of American professional wrestler Ryan Parmeter
  • Peter O'Brian (b. 1956), New Zealand actor, best known for playing Alex Tarambuan in the movie The Intruder
  • Peter O'Brian (b. 1947), Canadian film producer and broadcast executive, Chair of TVOntario (2005-)
  • Patrick O'Brian CBE (1914-2000), born Richard Patrick Russ, an English novelist and translator


The O'Brian 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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th February 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1847
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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