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Family spelling variants includes Brien, Brian, Bryon

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BRYAN Family History

This surname is primarily a patronymic name, in that it refers to the personal name of an ancestor, and as such means 'son of Bryan'.

It may ultimately derive from the Old Norse personal name 'Brjan', and was introduced into England by the Normans after the conquest in 1066. Brien was a name that had been popular in Brittany, and therefore some examples of the surname in Britain may date back to the time when Bretons accompanied William the Conqueror during that Norman invasion. Or it may come from the personal name 'Brian', which contains the element 'bre' (hill or eminence), giving rise to a native Irish version borne by the descendants of Brian Boru, who rose to the High Kingship in 1002; Brian came into use as a surname 40 years after his death.

Early examples of the surname include Wydo Bryan of Devon, Alicia Bren and Acelot Bryvon of Cambridgeshire, Thomas fil Brian and Alan fil Brian of Yorkshire, who all appear on the 1273 Hundred Rolls.

Bryon was a common form of the name in the 13th century when it was particularly numerous in Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, and Norfolk. The surname was later recorded in significant numbers in Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire.

Another early form of the surname was Brionne, a branch of this family came originally from Normandy. A Wido de Brionne, an ancestor of the Counts of Bryonne, and the Earls of Clare and Hertford, acquired a lordship in Wales about 1090.

Several significant clusters of this surname were recorded in differerent parts of Wales during the mid-19th century, in particular in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire.

 

SOURCES:

1841 & 1851 census

A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (1896) by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley

The Battle Abbey Roll (1889) by Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina Powlett

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain (1890) by Henry Brougham Guppy

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