This interesting English surname may be a patronymic of Anglo-Norman origin from the Old Norse personal name "Brjan", introduced into England by the Normans. It may also be a patronymic of Celtic origin from the Celtic personal name "Brian", containing the element "bre", hill or eminence, giving rise to a native Irish version borne by one of the greatest Irish septs, descendants of Brian Boru, who rose to the High Kingship in 1002; Brian came into use as a surname 40 years after his death. This native Irish name had also been borrowed by the Vikings who introduced it to North West England before the Norman Conquest. The name is first recorded in England in the 1086 Domesday Book of Essex - "Radulfus filius (son of) Brien". A Ralph Brian was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire 1205. The Hundred Rolls (1273) record a Wydo Bryan in Devon, an Acelot Bryon in Cambridge and Alan Filius Brian in York. Sir Francis Bryan (d. 1550) knighted for service in the field in 1522, involved in Henry V111's divorce and Lord Marshall of Ireland in 1548. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Brien, which was dated 1160, in the "Feudal Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds", Bury, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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