Barrett Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This last name has four origin theories or meanings. First, it is a baptismal/patronymic surname meaning “the son of Berold” a spelling variant of the medieval French personal (first) name Berraud. As a masculine given name, it appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, a survey of Wales and England ordered by William the Conqueror, in county York. Second, it may have developed as a nickname for a deceitful or quarrelsome person, deriving from the Middle English word barrat or barrette, meaning trouble, deception, cheating, or strife, ultimately from the Old French word barat, meaning dealings, commerce, barter, or haggle, similar to the Italian Baratta, the word for a market trader in England. Third, it could be an occupational name from the Old French word barette, meaning cap or bonnet, the maker of caps or hats. Fourth, it may derive from the Germanic or Teutonic Bernwald, consisting of the words bern (bear) and wald (rule), also lending itself to the medieval first names Beornhard in England and Bernhard in German (the termination hard means strong/brave). The Barretts of North Mayo, Ireland, were Lords of Tirawley. Once source asserts the name was introduced into Ireland by the Anglo-Norman invaders who began coming in 1169 AD. A branch, spelled Barratt, established themselves in Cork and spelled their name Baroid in Irish. Another branch of the family tree, spelled Barrett, settled in the Connacht counties of Galway and Mayo where the name was Gaelicized as Bareid. Strongbow (Earl of Pembroke in Wales, Richard de Clare, who lived from 1130-1176) granted the family lands in counties Mayo and Cork. Clan Barrett is an Irish clan of Norman origin, that includes septs like MacEvilly, MacWattin, MacAndrew, and MacPadine.
In his book A Genealogical History of Irish Families, John Rooney, states the following in regard to this family: “After the advent of the family to Ireland they acquired a tract of territory in the County of Cork, known as Barrett's Country and at present as the barony of Barretts, and comprising over 26,000 acres. When Hugh O'Neill was marching to the siege of Kinsale, in 1600, he asked, when passing Castlemore, who lived in the castle. He was told that it was " Barrett, a good Catholic, whose family had possessed the estate about four hundred years" and “Many of the latter were noted ecclesiastics, among them, the Most Rev. Richard Barrett, Bishop of Killala, 1536, and Thomas Barrett, of Elphin, who is described as " a noble prelate, full of good qualities” and “During the Williamite and Jacobite wars of 1688-91, Colonel John Barrett, of the Cork Barretts, the chief representative of the family, raised a regiment of infantry, which he commanded in the cause of King James the Second during the contest. He also sat for the borough of Mallow in the Dublin Parliament of 1689”.
In England, the name was first located in Lincolsnhire, where a one Matthew Baret was documented around 1152 AD, later having been established in other counties such as Hertfordshire, Essex, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire.
Some spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Barratt, Barett, Barret, Barrat, Baratt, Barreitt, Barrette, Barretta, Barretto, Baretti, Berrett, Berret, Barraud, Baret, Barat, Berard, Berloldi, and others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Barrett ranks 300th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Vermont, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
The surname Barrett frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (149th), Scotland (414th), Wales (148th), Ireland (96th) and Northern Ireland (412nd). In England, it ranks highest in counties Norfolk and Oxfordshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in county Roxburgshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Montgomeryshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Mayo. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Tyrone.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (390th), New Zealand (209th), Australia (200th), and South Africa (1,086th).
Early Bearers of the Surname
Stephanus filius (son of) Beroldi was documented in the Pipe Roll in 1158 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists four bearers of this surname: Robert Berard (Bedfordshire), Agnes Barat (Cambridge), Harvey Baret (Norfolk), and John Baret (Lincolnshire). A one Edward Barret was listed in the Register of the University of Oxford in 1575. In Ireland, the last name Baireid was documented in The Annals of Connacht in 1350 AD.
Barrett Family Tree & Barrett Genealogy
Barrett of Court Lodge
The lineage or ancestry of this branch of the Barrett family tree traces back to John Barrett, who was born in 1685 and lived at Oaken in county Stafford. He married Anne Hickman and had issue with her as follows: John (of Whittingham), Richard (of Barton-on-Humber, had three daughters and a son named Nathaniel), Nathaniel (married twice but had no issue, was High Sheriff in county Stafford), William, Ann, Margaret (married John Eastwick of Shifnall and later Walter Mansel), and Nathan (of Wharton, had a daughter named Ann?). He died in 1756 and was succeeded by his fourth son William. This William was an Esquire who married Rebecca, daughter of John Tufnell of Essex, and later Elizabeth Churchill (of Churchill of the Poet) and had three issue with the former: Samuel Tufnell, John Hickman (married Ann Wilkes of Westminster), and Ann (married William Henry White). His eldest son, Samuel Tufnell Barrett, Esq., was born in 1761 and in 1794 married Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Thomas Gordon, with whom he had no issue. He later married Agnes, daughter of Samuel Sealy of Magh, and had the nine children with her: Tufnell Carbonell (his successor), Samuel Uriah (married Julia Erskine of Brianston Square, had two sons and three daughters with her), Best William, Mary Agnes Tufnell (married Reverend William Wood of Martock), Fanny Maria (married Thomas Staunton), Lucy Alicia, Hannah Ann (married Edward Staunton of Longbridge), and Octavia Bingham. He was also a Captain of the 37th Regiment. He died in 1847 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Tufnell Carbonell Barrett, an Esquire of Shorne, county Kent, England who was born in January of 1810. In 1832, he married Mary Ann, only daughter of Benjamin O’Neill Hughes of Hill Town, Wexford, Ireland, and had four children with her as follows: Tufnell Samuel, John Hoey, Charlotte, and Agnes Lydia. He died in 1856 and was succeeded by his eldest and only surviving son: Reverend Tufnell-Samuel Barnett of Court Lodge Shorne, Kent, who was born in 1833 and educated at Christ Church Oxford, becoming a Vicar of Barrow-in-Furness, county Lancaster. In 1857, he married Louisa, daughter of Frederic Cowper of Carleton Hall, and had eight issue with him as follows: Tufnell Cowper Alliston (1857), Rusland Tufnell (1859), Frederick Lambert Tufnell (1860), Wilfrid Tufnell (1865), Cyril Tufnell (1866), John Basil Tufnell (1868), Mary Louisa Tufnell, and and Edith Theodosia Kathlene Tufnell. The Barrett Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Barrett Family Crest by those unfamiliar with heraldry and genealogy) is blazoned as follows: Gules, on a chief, indented, argent, three escallops of the field. Crest: A lion, rampant, or, holding between the fore feet an escallop sable. They were seated at Court Lodge, Shorne, Gravesend, Kent, England in modern day Great Britain or United Kingdom in the British Isles of Europe. Their residence was The Vicarage, Barrow-in-Furness, county Lancaster.
Barrett of Milton House
The Barrett genealogy of this line begins with John Briant Barrett, Esquire, who purchased the estate of Milton in 1764 from the Carlton family. He had a son named John Richard Barrett, an Esquire of Milton, who married Marth and had the following issue: John Basil (his heir), Elizabeth (married John Hutchinson Bourne, Chief Justice of Newfoundland), and Louisa Caroline (married Martin Archer Shee, son of Sir Martin Archer Shee). His son John Basil Barrett was an Esquire of Milton House, Berkshire, England who was born in August of 1818. In October of 1861, he married Ellen, daughter of John Box of Abingdon, and had four children with her as follows: John Basil Joseph, George Bryant Martin, Louis Arthur, and Theresa. The Barrett Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Barrett Family Shield by some) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Quarterly: 1st and 4th, gules, on a chief, indented, argent, the escallops of the first, for Barrett; 2nd and 3rd, argent, a chevron engrailed, ermines, between three greyhounds’ heads erased ermine, for Belson. Crest: A wyvern, wings erect, or, chained and collared, azure. Motto: Honor, virtus, probitas. They were seated at Milton House, Abingdon, Berks, England in modern day Great Britain or the United Kingdom.
The lineage of this family traces back to William Baret of Bodmin, county Cornwall, who lived around 1504 AD. He had a son named John Barret, of St. Goran, county Cornwall, England who lived in 1524 AD. He had a son named Thomas. Thomas was of St. Goran and he died in 1578 AD. He in turn had a son named John Barratt of Gwennap, who lived in 1564 AD. John in turn had a son, also named John. This son John married the sister of Peter Hall, and had a son named Peter. This Peter Barratt was of Gwennap, Cornwall, who died around 1667, leaving a son. This son was Hercules Barratt of Gwennap, who in January 1662, married Phillipa Launder. He died in 1703, having had numerous issue with her. His fifth son was named Alexander. This Alexander was born around 1686 and in 1719 he married Grace, daughter of Jasper Billing. He had four sons and four daughters. His youngest son, Alexander Barratt of Redruth, was born in 1733 and in 1759, he married Elizabeth Noall and had issue with her. One of his children was James, of St. Mary Tavy, county Devon, born in 1765. In November 1791, he married Ann, daughter of George Bennetts, with whom he had several issue. His youngest son was Francis Barratt of Gwennap who was born in 1797. He first married Margaret Webb in 1827, daughter and heir of John Williams of Biscovay, and had issue with her. He secondly married Elizabeth Tallack. He died in 1873. His only son was Francis Barratt of St. Austell, Cornwall, England and The Esplanade, Plymouth who was born in 1831. In 1859, he married Anne Mitchell, eldest daughter and co-heir of John Pascoe Bennetts of Woodlane, Falmouth. Next came Sir Francis Layland-Barratt, 1st Baronet, Lord of the Manor of Lemail, as well as a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, and High Sheriff who was born in 1860. He was educated at Trinity Hall Cambridge and assumed by royal license the additional surname and arms of Layland, and was created a Baronet in 1908. In 1884, he married Frances, daughter of Thomas Layland of Stone House, Wallasey, county Cheshire, England, and had four children with her as follows: Sir Francis Henry Godolphin (2nd Baronet), Dorothea Layland, Petronel Eleanor Layland (married Flag Lieutenant Commander George Edward Cumming of the Royal Navy, and later Lieutenant Commander Reginald Dillwoth Howard, also of the Royal Navy, had issue), and Frances Patricia (married Major Gervase Percy Disney and later married Hugh Quennell, having had issue with both men). He died in 1933. His son Sir Francis Henry Godolphin Layland Barratt, 2nd Baronet, was of the Manor House, Torquay, county Devon, England who was a Captain Grenadier Guards and A.D.C. to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland who served in World War I (and was wounded), born in 1896. He succeeded his father in 1933. The Barratt Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Barratt Family Crest by those unfamiliar with genealogy and heraldry) has the following heraldic blazon: Quarterly, 1st and 4th argent, on a chevron engrailed between three bears statant sable, muzzled or, as many cross crosslets fitchee of the field (Barratt); 2nd and 3rd, argent on a fesse raguly gules, between two bunches composed of three ears of wheat vert, banded or in chief, and two escallops of the third in base, a lion passant of the first (Layland); quartering, argent a greyhound courant sable between three Cornish choughs proper, a chief azure semee of the fleur-de-lis or (for Williams), and per fesse gules and sable in chief two demi-lions rampant ermine, and in base a sprig of three trefoils or (for Bennetts). Crests: 1) (Barratt) A bear sable muzzled, and resting the dexter forepaw on an escallop or. 2) (Layland) A dove rising wings tergeant azure, ducally gorged of the last, holding in the beak and ear of wheat or. The family motto was Cui debeo fidus. They were seated at the Manor House, Torquay, Devon, England in Great Britain or modern day United Kingdom.
Other Barrett Pedigree & Family Trees
Hugh Barrett Sr. was born in county Down, Ireland in 1767. He married Nancy Ann Matchett and had five children with her as follows: Joseph, Elizabeth, Abraham, Edward, and Hugh Jr. He went to colonial America and died in Ohio in 1841. His son Joseph was born in county Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom in 1792. He married Margaret Courtright and had the following issue with her: Elizabeth Little, Abraham, Annabell Little, Joseph, Sarah L., Mary Jane, and Susan. His son Abraham Barrett was born in Coshocton, Ohio in 1820. He married three times and had numerous issue as follows: Elizabeth Ann, David, Joseph, Sarah, William, Caroline, John, Samuel, Gabriella Truax, Perry, and Flora Inice. His son Samuel was born in 1868 and he married Rocella Johnson and had a daughter with her named Sylvia Jewell who was born in Kansas in 1890. She married Hebert Maxwell Ratliff and had issue named Leo and Zenn T. prior to her death in 1973 in Oklahoma.
Humphrey Barrett was born in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England in 1592. He went to colonial America and lived in Concord, Massachusetts. He married Martha Mary Wheeler and had three issue: Thomas, John, and Deacon Humphrey. His son John was born in England in 1628 and went to Massachusetts with her father. He married Mary Littlefield and Mary Pond, and had the following children: Benjamin, John Jr., Grace (Bush), Mary (Rice), and Lydia.His son Benjamin Barrett was born in Malden, Massachusetts in 1653. He married Sarah Graves and Mary Alexander, and had the following issue: Rebecca (Wright), Sarah (Scott), John, Benjamin II, Jonathan, and Hannah. His son Benjamin II was born in Chelmsford, MA around 1685. He married Hannah Foster and had the following children with her: Benjamin III, Isaac, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebecca. His son Benjamin III was born in the same town in 1709. He married Susannah Marsh and Elizabeth Farmer and had a son named Benjamin IV who was born in Chelmsford, MA in 1733. He married Lydia Saunders and Olive Keyes and had issue as follows: Oliver B. and Thaddeus. His son Thaddeus Barrett was born in the same town in 1769. He married Jerusha Fuller and had the following issue with her: Luman C., Hannah Almira, and Alvira. His son Luman C. was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire in 1806. He had children named Ira, Jerusha, Candace, Alvira, and Hiram.
Early American and New World Settlers
William Barrett was recorded as living in Virginia in 1623. He came aboard the Bona Nova in 1620 at the age of 26 as part of the Muster of Mr. Stockton.
Francis Barrett was recorded as living in Virginia in 1623. He came to colonial America aboard the Bona Nova as a servant in the muster of Lieutenant Barkley.
Richard Barrett, who owned seven slaves, who was recorded in the Towne of St. Michael’s in 1680.
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions five bearers of this last name:
1) Benjamin Barrett of Hatfield, Massachusetts, a soldier under Captain Turner, in 1676. He moved to Deerfield and died in 1690, having children named Benjamin, Johnathan, John, Sarah, and Rebecca.
2) Humphrey Barrett of Concord, MA, 1640, a freeman in 1657, died in November 1662, settled in Marlborough, MA. He had three sons: John, Thomas, and Humphrey.
3) John Barrett of Malden, MA, 1653, moved to Wells and was made a constable there in 1657, and was a representative to the General Court 1681. He married the daughter of Edward Attlefield and had a son with her named John.
4) John Barrett of Chelmsford, Massachusetts who married Susan and had issue named Lydia in 1659 and Samuel in June of 1660.
5) Walter Barett of Cambridge, MA, married Sarah, daughter of Robert Champney, and had issue named John and Lydia in 1660.
Other early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include Margaret (Boston 1633), Samuel Barrett (New Connecticut 1645), Sara Barrett (Virginia 1649), Baldus (or Balthas) Barrett was (Pennsylvania 1738), Arthur Barrett (Virginia 1749), and Andrew Barrett (Boston 1764).
In Canada,John Barrett came to St. John’s Newfoundland in 1705, and one Robin Barrett came from England and lived in Trepassey, Newfoundland in the early 1700s, having later lived in Woody Island. In Australia, one of the first settlers bearing this surname was George Barrett, a convict from Wiltshire, who came aboard the Ann in 1809, having settled in New South Wales (then a penal colony). In New Zealand, Richard Barrett arrived in Queen Charlotte Sound in 1830.
Early Americans Bearing the Barrett Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains three entry for this surname:
1) Ermine on a fess [gules] three lions rampant [or]. Crest: a lion passant. Tombstones Col. James Barrett, who d. 1779, aged 69, and Col. Nathan Barrett, who d. 1791. Arms of Blyth family? From a drawing by Miss Elizabeth Barrett of Concord, 1922. Hill Burying Ground, Concord, Mass. See Heral. Jour., vol. 3, pp. 155-6. Dr. H. M. Buck says arms of George Blyth, sec. to Council at York. See Glover MS. Also similar to Person.
2) Or a chevron engrailed gules between three bears' heads sable muzzled or. Crest: a griffin segreant reguardant gules. On automobile Harry W. Barrett, 28 Greystone Rd., Malden, Mass.
3) Ermine on a fess azure three lions rampant. Crest: a lion couchant. Engr. on silver tray by John Coburn. Barrett Wendell, owner, Boston, 1920. Also on a silver mug, impaling ( Gerrish)*: Gu a pheon point down bet 3 escallops. John Barrett of Portsmouth, N. H., married Sarah, sister of Col. Joseph Gerrish. Their son, Samuel, owner about 1761, had daughter Anna, who married Isaac Green. the next owner (I. A. G.). Crest: a lion passant.
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) contains one entry for this name:
1) Humpfrey Barrett, Concord, 1640. Ermine, on a fess gules, three lions rampant or.
Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) does not contains an entry for this name.
I have identified four Barrett family mottoes:
1) Honor virtus probitas (Honor virtue character)
2) Probitas verus honor (Honesty is true honour)
3) Frangas non Flectes: virtus probitas (Unbowed, Unbroken, Honor and Courage)
4) Cui debeo fidus (Faithful to whom I owe faith)
We have 35 coats of arms for the Barrett surname depicted here. These 35 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Barrett Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Barrett Family Crest)
1) John Barrett of Hertfordshire, 13 July 1465, by Walker Bellengier, Ireland King of Arms
2) Leonard Barrett, Fordham, Cambridge, 4 September 1575 by Cooke
3) Thomas Richard Barrett of London, and Robert, sons of Thomas (or William) of Kingswood, Wiltshire, England, crest 6 February 1590-91 by William Dethick
4) Thomas Barrett of Thoroton, Nottingham, and to brothers Richard, George, and John, 12 May 1663, by W. Dugdale
5) William Barrett of the Devizes, county Wiltshire, England, 20 November 1577, by Cooke
There are hundreds of notable people with the Barrett surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Aaron Asher Barrett (1974) who is the lead singer, songwriter, and songwriter of the ska-punk band Reel Big Fish best known for their 1997 hit “Sell Out”, 2) Barbara Barnett (1950) who is an American businessman who was the United States Ambassador to Finland from 2008-2009 and is the chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, as well as a member of various boards such as RAND Corporation and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 3) Beauden John Barrett (1991) who is a rugby player born in New Plymouth, New Zealand whose career began in 2010 when he started playing to Taranaki, 4) Beck Barrett (1942) who was a Canadian politician who held numerous positions such as the Minister of Labour and Immigration and Minister of Labour, 5) William E. Barrett (1929-2016) who was a Republican born in Lexington, Nebraska who was a member of the US House of Representatives from said state’s 3rd district, 6) Robert Schley Barrett Sr. (1899-1982) who was a professional baseball player in the MLB from 1923-1929, born in Atlanta, Georgia who played for the Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Robins, and Boston Red Sex, 7) Major General Charles Dodson Barrett (1885-1943) who a Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Division, born in Henderson, Kentucky, who served in World War I and II, as well as the Battle of Veracruz, 8) Richard “Dicky” Michael Barrett (1964) who was the frontman of the ska-punk band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones who was born in Providence, Rhode Island, 9) Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) who was a popular English poet in the Victorian era who was born in Kelloe, Durham, best known for her poem “How Do I Love Thee”, 10) George Barret Sr. (1730-1784) who was an Irish landscape painter from Dublin, 11) George Francis Barrett (1907-2980) who was the 30th Attorney General of Illinois during the 1940s, 12) James Gresham Barrett (1961) who was a member of the US House of Representatives from 2002-2011, and 13) Thomas Mark Barrett (1953) who became the 44th Mayor of Milwaukee in 2004.