Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Brien Name
Origins of Brien:
Listed in many spelling forms such as Brian, Brien, Bryan, Briand, Brient, Bryand, Bryant, and the Gaelic O`Brien or O`Brian, this surname can be of either Breton (France), or Norse-Viking or Gaelic sources. However, wherever it originally appeared, the meaning of the name is perhaps the same, and that is “hillman.” It may seem that a different meaning for what started out as a first name before becoming a surname, but most old names have same simple sources. Certainly, where the name is of claimed Gaelic or Celtic origin, it acquired from “bre,” which means slope. The offsprings of Brian Boru, who rose to the High Kingship in 1002 like the popular tribe O’Brien, and it considered that “Brian” came into use as a surname 40 years after his death. Sadly, this is not proven. It was also considered that the Irish name was “borrowed” by the Vikings, who brought it to North West England before the Norman invasion. What is real is that the name was first listed in England in the 1086 Domesday Book of Essex, Radulfus filius Brien, appearing there.
More common variations are: Bryien, Brienn, Briean, Brieen, Briene, Birien, Borien, Breien, Brioen, Briehn.
The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of Ralph Brien, dated about 1160, in the “Feudal Documents” from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. It was during the time of King Henry II who was known to be the “The Builder of Churches,” dated 1154-1189. 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. Surnames all over the country began to develop, with unique and shocking spelling varieties of the original one.
The surname Brien first appeared in Thomond, an area that consisted mostly of district Clare with combined parts of divisions Limerick and Tipperary.
Many of the people with surname Brien had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.
United States of America:
Individuals with the surname Brien settled in the United States in two different centuries respectively in the 18th, and 19th. Some of the individuals with the name Brien who landed in the United States in the 18th century included Cormick Brien, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1745. A Lucie Brien, Isabelle Brien, and Magdeleine Brien, all arrived in South Carolina in 1755-1756. Elizabeth Brien, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1767.
The following century saw many more Brien surnames come. Some of the population with the name Brien who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included William Brien landed in America in 1800. Thomas Brien arrived in New York, NY in 1804.
People with the surname Brien settled in Canada in two different centuries respectively in the 17th and 18th. People with the surname Brien who came to Canada in the 17th century included Louis Brien arrived in Quebec from Brittany in 1676.
The following century saw much more Brien surnames come. Some of the people with the name Brien who landed in Canada in the 19th century included Anne Brien landed in Nova Scotia in 1813.
People with the surname Gouge who settled in Australia in the 19th century included Christopher Brien, Joseph Brien, Thomas Brien and Edward Brien, all arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832.
Some of the individuals with the surname Gouge who settled in New Zealand in the 19th century included Hannah Brien arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship “Accrington” in 1863. Ellen Brien arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Ocean Mail” in 1875.
Here is the population distribution of the last name Brien: Ireland 12,163; United States 4,895; Canada 2,668; England 2,420; Australia 1,872; South Africa 1,242; France 784; Germany 773; Northern Ireland 262; New Zealand 220.
Douglas Robert Zachariah Brien was born in November 1970, and is an old American football placekicker.
William Roy Brien (November 1930–January 1987) was an English soccer player.
Brien Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Brien blazon are the lion, fleur-de-lis, sword and crescent. The three main tinctures (colors) are or, gules and sable .
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa . The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo..
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..
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 art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions . Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” , a sentiment echoed equally today.
The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. . The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul” and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms
Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that mediaeval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms . Indeed, the sheer variety of different swords can be bewildering and expaining the difference between a scimitar and a falchion is perhaps best left to the expert! If a charge is described just as a simple sword then it will have a straight blade and cross handle, that may be of a different colour, and, unless specified, points upwards. Wade, quoting the earlier writer Guillim, signifies the use of the sword as representing “Government and Justice”.