This unusual surname has two possible origins, both essentially continental. The first is that the name is a dialectally developed form of the Old Breton-Irish "Brien" (Brian), a personal name of truly ancient ancestry and believed to derive from either "bre" meaning "hill" or "brigh", strong. The second possibility is that the name is locational, and describes a person from the town of "Brianes" in Northern Spain. In the United Kingdom the name as Briance and Bryance seems to be associated with St. Pancras Old Church, Paddington, London, for many years a centre for Huguenot ceremonies, and this is probably the key to the present spelling. The development and "links" may be from the first holder (below) to James Brions, who married Margaret Foxall at Tottenham on April 23rd 1724, to Samuel Briants, christened at St. Paul's, Deptford on January 4th 1829. Oddly, in 1854 there is a high incidence of "Briances" at St. Pancras; William Briance being married to Mary Sear on April 30th, whilst a Henry Briance is recorded on December 3rd, and on September 15th 1857, Frank Bryance, the son of George Bryance, was christened at the same church. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Briene, which was dated October 30th 1603, a witness at Threadneedle Street French Huguenot Church, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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