Brice Coat of Arms
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Origin, Meaning, Family History and Brice Coat of Arms and Family Crest
The name Brice is found in England, France, and Scotland. The name is Celtic variation of the Latin given name Britius, Bricius, or Brixius. It is not uncommon to find names, which for centuries have been claimed by the citizens of one country, have their origins in another. In the case of the name Brice, is believed to have come over with the Normans during the invasion of 1066. The name is considered patronymic as it is derived from the name of a 5th century saint from Gaul.
There are multiple variations of the spelling of the surname including but not limited to; Brice; Bryce; Bryse; Bryses; Bryces; Brices; and Bricius among others. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time.
The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of William Brice which appears in the Essex tax rolls from 1249. The tax rolls were a series of financial records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Henry III, with the oldest dating back seven hundred years to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom.
Surnames in Europe prior to the mid-sixteenth century were largely unheard of. Residents found little need for surnames in the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people’s names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. There was a limitless supply from which surnames could be culled, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Surnames also served the practical purpose of allowing a greater degree or accuracy and detail in keeping of such things as censuses, taxation, and immigration records.
With the discovery of America and the addition to the British Commonwealth of countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it was not long before people began to immigrate to these outlying areas. The use of surnames made tracking of immigrants easier. One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname was Francis Brice who landed and settled in Virginia in 1643. William and Mary Brice were some of the early settlers to Canada, landing in Nova Scotia in 1750. Amry Ann Brice was one of the early settlers to Australia, landing and settling in Adelaide in 1849. Sarah Brice was one of the early settlers to New Zealand, arriving and settling in Auckland in 1873.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Brice are found in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, and the United States. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Brice live in Alaska, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
The Brice family is an historic family traceable to the late thirteenth century. The family has ties to some of the oldest and most noble families in England, the Spencers, the Worthingtons, and the Everys. They owned a significant amount of Somerset and were the Lords of Dinnington manor.
John Brice and William Brice fought in the Battle of Crecy and the Battle of Poitiers, respectively. Robert Brice (Bryce) served as the magistrate of Glastonbury. William Brice served as magistrate of Longbridge Deverill, and Sir Hugh Brice was the mayor of London from 1485 until 1486, and James Bryce (Brice), 1st Viscount Bryce, was an academic, jurist, and historian.
Brice Coat of Arms Meaning
The three main devices (symbols) in the Brice blazon are the castle, fret and cross. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P52. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).3A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P154
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.
Architectural items, from individual components to entire buildings 6Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 92 feature frequently as charges In a coat of arms. Not surprisingly, considering the times from which many arms date, fortifications are common. The castle is perhaps second only to the tower in this usage, and often described in some detail as to its construction, the disposition of windows and so on. 7A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Castle Continental examples also sometimes include attackers on scaling ladders. Wade tells us that the appearance of a castle indicates “granduer and solidity” and one can understand why. 8The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P100
The fret is a striking charge, often occupying the whole of the field and being two instersecting diagonal lines interlaced with the outline of a square. 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Fret It is believed to be derived from the image of a fishing net, which it does indeed resemble, and hence Wade believes that it should signify persuasion, although other writers regard it separately as the “the heraldic true lovers knot” 10The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P118
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 11Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 47. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. In its basic form, the cross is created from two broad bands of colour at right angles covering the whole extent of the shield. It has been subject to all manner of embellishment, and the interested reader is referred to the references, especially Parker’s Heraldic dictionary for many examples of these. 12A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Cross 13A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P106 14A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P160-173 Suffice it to say that any armiger would be proud to have such an important device as part of their arms.