Recorded as Briant, Brient, Bryant, Briance, Briants, Briene, and others, this is an Anglo-French surname. It has two possible origins, both essentially continental. The first is as a dialectal of the pre 7th century Old Breton-Irish name "Brien". This is of truly ancient ancestry and believed to derive from either "bre" meaning hill, or "brigh", meaning strong. The second possibility is that the name is locational, and describes a person from the town of Brianes in what is now 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. The first recorded spelling of the family name is that of Radulfus filius Brien in the Domesday Book for Essex in 1086. Other interesting recordings include Ralf Brien of Bury in Lancashire in 1160, Ralph Brian of Yorkshire in 1205, and three centuries later Bennet Briant, in the Subsidy Tax rolls of Suffolk in 1524. John Briene was a witness at Threadneedle Street French Huguenot Church, London, in 1603. This was during the reign of King James 1st of England and V1th of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often known as the 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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