The earliest known bearer of the name was Bryson of Heraclea, a mathematician of ancient Greece around 350 BC, who devised a new way of squaring a circle. Naturally, no modern Bryson can trace their lineage back to the original Bryson, but our name is very old. Unfortunately that age also clouds its origin. However, we have several theories based on fragmentary records.
One legend told in the family is that two missionaries were sent from Rome to both France and Scotland. The missionary to France became known as Brisson. The missionary to Scotland became known as Bryson. Legend fables that we are the descendants of that Bryson.
One creditable theory has some similarity to the missionary legend. It links the family with the French Brissons but as ancestors not comrades. This theory holds that the family descended from French Huguenots named Brisson. Around the time of the Massacre on St. Bartholomew Day in 1512 they escaped from France to Scotland, Ireland, and England. Their name gradually changed to the more anglicized Bryson with each passing year.
Another theory has the family originating from Ulster, particularly in Counties Donegal and Derry. The earlier spelling of the name was Mrieson with similar variants. The Bryson and Morrison names evolved from those earlier Gaelic names. This theory holds that at least some of the Irish Brysons developed independent of the Scot Brysons.
Another theory has the family originating completely in Scotland. The family assumed the name of the fourth century St. Bricus of Tours. Brysons are recorded in Scotland in some of the earliest records. Several religious figures named Bri**** are recorded in Scotland as early as 1170 AD. It occurs in England as early as 1273 where in the Hundred Rolls John Brice is listed. In 1332 the Subsidy Rolls for Cumerland records John Briceson while Thomas Bryson is listed in the Suffolk Subsidy Rolls in 1524. The main area associated with Brysons in Scotland was Strathclyde with an ancient family seat in Craigton.
Regardless which theory of our early origin is correct, Brysons were scattered throughout southwest Scotland and northeast Ireland by the seventeenth century. As the new world opened for colonization, many Brysons left their homeland to settle in the Americas, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Here we now stand and thrive.Additional Resources