Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Bree Name
England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland
Origins of Bree:
This old and well-known surname, listed with the spellings of Bray, Braye, Brea, and Bree, and having no less than twenty-one royal symbols, and many notable entries in the “National Biography,” has four different possible origins, each with its own history and source. The first source of the name may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a geographical name from the hamlets so called in East Berkshire or Devonshire. Listed as “Brai” in the Domesday Book of 1086, the hamlets were called from the Olde English pre 7th Century “breg,” or the Welsh, Cornish “bre,” which means hill, slope. Ralph de Bray was recorded in the 1225 Curia Regis Rolls of Devonshire, Parnella Brea in the record of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, in February 1565, and Underhill Bree in the record of St Botolphs without Aldgate, London, in March 1669. The second origin of the name may have started as a nickname for one of great and noble bearings, from the Cornish “bregh,” which means fine or strong. Examples from this source contain as Roger le Bray (Northamptonshire, 1202), and William le Brey (Somerset, near the year 1314). The third possibility is of Scottish origin and geographical from one or other of the places called Brae. Godfredus de Bra was a witness on an examination in Aberdeen in the year 1400. Finally, it may be of Irish origin, and an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic “O’Breaghdha” showing a resident of Bregia, an old territory in Co. Meath.
More common variations are: Brewe, Boree, Baree, Breye, Biree, Breie, Buree, Beree, Breeh, Byree.
The surname Bree first appeared in Northamptonshire where Sir Robert Bray who existed about the time of Richard I was considered to be the ancestor. “His great-grandson, Thomas, was king of Thgunby, in the same division in the ninth of Edward II. “This name befalls in all the copies of the co-called Roll of Battel Abbey, and that a great family so called shifted from Normandy at the time of the Invasion seems certain. Three places in that county are still called Brai as two in the arrondissement of Falaise, and one in that of Bernal.”
The very first recordied spelling of the family was shown to be that of Alnod de Braio, dated about 1086, in the “Domesday Book of Devonshire.” It was during the time of King William I who was known to be the “William the Conqueror,” dated 1066 – 1087. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation. It came to be known as Poll Tax in England.
Many of the people with surname Bree had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.
Some of the population with the surname Bree who arrived in New Zealand in the 19th century included Harriet Bree arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Claramont” in 1863. Anna Bree arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Claramont” in 1863. Bertha Bree arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Clararnont” in 1863. Reginald Bree arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Claramont” in 1863. Alice Bree arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Claramont” in 1863.
Here is the population distribution of the last name Bree: United States 885; Netherlands 691; Germany 538; England 290; France 257; Argentina 224; Australia 214; Belgium 156; Ireland 147; Canada 139
Andrew Bree (born 1981), is an Irish swimmer.
Declan Bree (born 1951), is an Irish political leader.
Herbert Bree (1828–1899), was an Anglican priest.
James Bree (1923–2008), was a British actor.
James Bree (footballer) (born 1997), is an English football player.
Jonathan Bree was a singer, composer, and director in New Zealand.
Robert Bree (1759–1839), was an English physician.
Johannes Bernardus van Bree (1801–1857), was a Dutch author and musician.
Mattheus Ignatius van Bree (1773–1839), was a Belgian painter, sculptor, and designer.
Bree Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Bree blazon are the hand, pile, eagle’s leg and hempbreaker. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, ermine and sable .
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries . Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone..
Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found . The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur . In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known . Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy .
The hand, unless we are told otherwise is a dexter (right) hand shown palm outwards and fingers upwards.. It demonstrates faith, sincerity and justice, and in the form of two right hands clasped can mean union or alliance. There is a special form called the “Hand of Ulster” which is a sinister hand gules on an argent background (a left hand, red upon white). Originally the Badge of Ulster, the Province of Northern Ireland, it has come to be used as an addition to existing arms, in an escutcheon (small shield) or canton (small square) to indicate that the holder is also a Baronet.
The pile was originally quite a simple shape, being a triangle reaching from the top of the shield down to a point near the lower centre . A clear example being that of CHANDOS awarded in 1337, Or a pile gules. There is some argument as to the origin, Wade suggests some similarity with the meaning of “pile” in construction (a foundation) and hence that the shape could be adopted by those who have demonstrated some ability in the building trade . An earlier writer, Guillim, perhaps more plausibly suggested that the shape echoes those of a pennant or triangular flag The shape is quite distinctive however and became popular, leading to many embellishments to distinguish it from its close fellows, with multiple piles meeting at various points, starting from various edges and with additional decoration, leading to potentially quite complex descriptions!
Where the lion is undisputed king of the animals, the eagle undoubtedly plays the same role in the realm of the birds, its use in this form dating back to at least the Roman period . They tend to be illustrated in quite some detail, especially in continental European arms, and have almost as wide variety of postures and accessories as the lion, well illustrated in the reference as well as being just the eagle’s head or eagle’s leg. The symbology of the eagle is deep and complex, Wade devotes several pages to the subject , but suffice it say that it has long been associated with Empire and those held in high honour – any armiger would be pleased to have any form of Eagle upon their arms!