Breese - Surname Meaning

Breese is a Welsh patronymic surname. Before surnames were common in Wales, people were known by patronyms - that is by reference to their male ancestors. For example, Gruffydd ap Helyin ab Owain, means Gruffydd, son of Heylin, son of Owain. Surnames were adopted as English influence increased in Wales. The majority of surnames were derived from patronyms. Thus John ap John, would become John Jones, or sometimes John John. In some cases the 'p' or 'b' from 'ap' or 'ab' was prefixed to the surname., creating surnames such as Bowen (from ab Owen) and Prichard (from ap Richard). Typically surnames beginning with a vowel would be prefixed with a 'b' and surnames that began with constants a 'p'. However, this was not always the case and is the source of surnames such as Bloyd (from ab Lloyd). Thus Breese is derived from a concatenation of 'ab' and the Welsh forename Rhys; and as such the surname is of the same origin as Price, Pryce, Preece and Prys.

It appears the surname arose predominately or only in Montgomeryshire and is heavily connected with the parish of Llanbrynmair, where the Breeses were yeoman farmers with a penchant for inter-marriage. The surname is still common in Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, but today is more often rendered Breeze. Breese family traditions state that there were two Breese families in Montgomeryshire, one being "Y Breesiaid Bloesgion" and rumoured to be French or Flemish in descent, likely changing their name to blend in.

It has also been suggested that this surname could derive from the old English 'breosa', meaning lively, but it appears there is no foundation for this claim.

Early Renderings include:

  • Elizabth Bryes, widow of Llanbrynmair, 1586, Welsh Probates
  • Robert Breese, of Poulton, Cheshire, yeoman, 1666, Cheshire Wills
— David Hopkins, written: 2012-2014

The name of Breese or Breeze was represented in this county in the reign of Henry VIII. by a parishioner of Hackford called Breze (Bl.). The Norfolk name has probably not a common origin with the North Wales name of Breese, which is a contraction like Preece, of Ap Rees.

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain (1890) by Henry Brougham Guppy

(Welsh.) A contraction of Ap Reese, the son of Reese, or Rice (which see); so Bevan from Ap Evan, Brice from Ap Rice, etc. Brys, Welsh, agility, quickness; Bresse, local, a small territory in Burgundy, France.

An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names (1857) by William Arthur

The North Wales name of Breese like Preece is a form of Ap Rees. Breeuse and Breeze are old Norfolk names, where it is probable they have had a different origin, Brese being the form in the time of Henry VIII.

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain (1890) by Henry Brougham Guppy

Variants of this surname include: Breeze, Brees, Breece, Bryes & Breezes.

Breese - Surname Distribution

Breese Distribution in the United Kingdom in 1881

Hover over a county for more details.

No. of People

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* Statistics based on the 1881 census of the United Kingdom, Channel Islands & Isle of Man

Highest Incidence of Breeses in UK Counties and Dependencies

RankCountyNo. of People% of Region
1Montgomeryshire2660.42
2Norfolk1220.03
3Shropshire600.02
4Staffordshire530.01
5Middlesex44-
6Warwickshire430.01
7Lancashire28-
8Denbighshire270.02
9Merionethshire270.05
10Yorkshire18-
11Surrey17-
12Suffolk9-
13Nottinghamshire8-
14Cheshire8-
15Cardiganshire80.01
16Derbyshire8-
17Worcestershire8-
18Huntingdonshire70.01
19Lincolnshire7-
20Caernarfonshire60.01
21Glamorganshire6-
22Monmouthshire6-
23Sussex4-
24Hampshire2-
25Kent2-
26Durham2-
27Herefordshire1-
28Berkshire1-
29Carmarthenshire1-
30Cornwall1-
31Essex1-

Highest Incidence of Breeses in UK Settlements

RankSettlementNo. of People% of Settlement
1Llanbrynmair442.78
2Llanidloes320.64
3Kerry261.24
4Birmingham230.01
5Mallwyd221.69
6Llanwnnog201.14
7Newtown200.47
8Penegoes191.92
9Kingswinford180.05
10Aston juxta Birmingham180.01
11Wrexham180.09
12Cemmaes161.69
13Carno151.71
14Llanfair Caereinion140.61
15Walsall120.02
16Stoke upon Trent90.01
17Ruabon90.06
18Croydon90.01
19Llanerfyl81.02
20Aberystwyth70.10
21Shipley cum Heaton70.05
22Occold71.33
23Farcet70.98
24Machynlleth70.25
25Betws Cedewain61.05
26Guilsfield60.25
27Allerston60.15
28Manchester6-
29Trefeglwys60.33
30Westminster5-
31Kings Norton50.01
32Llanfrechfa50.09
33Ynyscynhaearn50.09
34Mochdre50.98
35Llandinam40.26
36Merthyr Tydfil40.01
37Chelsea4-
38Llangurig40.25
39Aberhafesp40.94
40Leigh30.01
41Petworth30.10
42Bury3-
43Tregynon30.42
44Bradford3-
45West Bromwich30.01
46Liverpool3-
47Llanwrin30.44
48Bermondsey2-
49Penllyn20.66
50Banstead20.05
51Aberdovey20.06
52Mickleham20.25
53Weybread20.29
54Wolstanton2-
55Edgbaston20.01
56Rushall20.03
57Newton in Makerfield10.01
58Llangynfelyn10.11
59Llansilin10.05
60Dolgellau10.03
61Dudley1-
62Sutton10.01
63Tettenhall Regis10.02
64Llanllwchaiarn10.03
65Usk10.05
66Bromsgrove10.01
67Stone10.01
68Llanelli1-
69Kingston upon Hull1-
70Llanfairfechan10.05
71Berriew10.05
72Walthamstow1-
73Kingston upon Thames1-
74Stansted10.24
75Halifax1-
76Forton10.18
77Old Swinford1-
78Brighton1-
79Trawsfynydd10.05
80Castell Caereinion10.17
81Ffestiniog10.01
82Bexley10.01
83Llangadfan10.11

Breese Distribution in Ireland in 1901

Hover over a county for more details.

No. of People

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* Statistics based on the 1901 census or Ireland

Highest Incidence of Breeses in Irish Counties

RankCountyNo. of People% of Region
1Cork1-

Highest Incidence of Breeses in Irish Settlements

RankSettlementNo. of People% of Settlement
1Buttevant10.05

Breese Reference & Research

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