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About the study
The Briese surname is most commonly of German origin, though it does appear in Dutch, northern French and British genealogical records. The British name appears to have a quite distinct source, having an apparent Celtic patronymic origin. The Dutch and French names may stem from the same source, but the German name has quite a different origin, being a toponym.
For the present this site is concentrating on Briese families who originate from Germany (and in the main from the old provinces of Prussia), though surnames from the other regions are being added to the database. It is intended as a resource for genealogical research, using both traditional and genetic studies. Eventually we hope to assemble sets of Briese family lineages based on available records church and civil records and public family trees prior to the 20th century. As such this is an ongoing task and we welcome contributions from anyone who would like to share information.
We would also welcome anyone who is interested in participating in the Briese family DNA project. It is a way of finding out relationships between different Briese families that might not otherwise be apparent and will hopefully show how the different families have diverged from a few strands.
Briese, Bries, (Polish spelling is Bryze, Bryza)
The British name appears to have a quite distinct source, being a variant of Celtic patronym, Brice (supposedly after the 5th century Gaulish saint, Bricius). Other variants include Bryce and similar. The Dutch and French names may stem from the same source.
The German name has quite a different origin. It is a toponym and stems from the German phonetics of a Slavic place name, meaning "birch tree". This is discussed in detail the the article "Why is the family tree a silver birch? The meaning of the Briese name".
The name is not very common in Germany - having a frequency of 30 per million. It is even rarer in England, Belgium and The Netherlands, its other region of origin.
Distribution of the name
The surname occurs mainly in Germany and very rarely in England, Belgium, France and The Netherlands. Emigration has taken the surname to North and South America and Australia. Details of this emigration are given in an on-line article "The Briese Diaspora: emigration of Brieses from Prussia to the New World during the 19th Century".
A data base of surname records up to and including the 19th century is being compiled on the Briese Surname Project website
A genetic genealogy study, based on Y-DNA, has recently commenced with FamilyTreeDNA. The project page is Briese family DNA project