O'bryan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the O'bryan family

The surname O'bryan 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'bryan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'bryan 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'bryan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'bryan Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland in the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. The standardized literary languages of today were not yet reached. Research into the name O'bryan revealed spelling 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'bryan 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'bryan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'bryan Ranking

In the United States, the name O'bryan is the 4,283rd most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [1]


Australia O'bryan migration to Australia +

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

O'bryan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Patrick O'Bryan, aged 17, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Nugget" [2]
  • Terence O'Bryan, aged 36, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance" [3]
  • Terence O'Bryan, aged 19, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance" [3]

West Indies O'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. [4]
O'bryan Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. Dermond O'Bryan, (b. 1615), aged 20, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Alexander" arriving in Barbados in 1635 [5]

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

  • James "Jimmy" O'Bryan (b. 1956), United States Virgin Islands politician
  • Sean O'Bryan (b. 1963), American film and television actor
  • Jason O'Bryan, English record producer and bassist from London, England
  • Norman O'Bryan (1930-2013), Australian barrister and judge who sat on the Supreme Court of Victoria, son of Sir Norman O'Bryan
  • Sir Norman John O'Bryan KC (1894-1968), Australian barrister and judge who sat on the Supreme Court of Victoria from 1939 to 1966
  • William O'Bryan (1778-1868), also known as William Bryant, Cornish Methodist preacher, founder of the Bible Christian movement
  • Arthur O'Bryan (b. 1923), Australian rules footballer

USS Arizona
  • Mr. George David O'Bryan, American Fire Controlman Third Class from Massachusetts, 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 [6]
  • Mr. Joseph Benjamin O'Bryan, American Fire Controlman Third Class from Massachusetts, 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 [6]


The O'bryan 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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 4th July 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Nugget 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/nugget1854.shtml.
  3. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 13th September 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Confiance 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/confiance1854.shtml.
  4. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  5. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 28th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  6. ^ 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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