Recorded in a number of spellings including Bresson, Bris, Brise, Brisard, Brissard, Brisse, Brisseau, Brisset, Brisson and others, this is a famous French medieval nickname surname. It is said to derive from the Old French word ''bris'' meaning to break, and to describe a clumsy person! That may be, but if so there must have been a lot of clumsy people about ''breaking'' things - and many of whom seem to have moved onto high rank. A more likely suggestion is that ''bris or briser'' originally described a warrior, who obtained the name by the use of force. This however like most observations in regard to nickname surnames - is conjecture. Unless one was actually present when the name was ''given'' to the recipient perhaps seven hundred years ago, true accuracy is quite impossible. Of less conjecture is that the true origin is Gaelic, a language also known as Celtic. This for many centuries traveled up and down mainly the western coasts of France, England, Ireland, and Scotland. In Gaelic ''bris'' means break, and as it predates French by probably a thousand years, this seems to proof positive of the true origin, although it still does not prove why the surname is wholly associated with France. From our research all surnames whatever the spelling and all granted coats of arms are French - and many played a significant role in the history of France. There are too many blazons to be covered by this limited research, but as examples Bris of Bretagne has a red field, charged with a gold fleur de lis, between three fishes. The fleur de lis was the personal symbol of the king of France, suggesting that the holder was close to the court. Another is Brisson of Poitou. This also has a red field indicating battle, and charged with three silver fusee in pale. Unfortunately the early French registers of births, deaths, and marriages were nearly all destroyed by the revolutionaries of 1792 as being ''silent'' agents of the king''s secret police. Amongst the relatively few that escaped were those of Nicclas Bresson as spelt, at Cerbeville, Meurthe-et-Moselle, on February 16th 1678, and Dominique Brisson at St Germain, also Meuthe-et-Moselle, on August 10th 1705.
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