Is there any evidence for William Bryan's parents?

+13 votes
Is there any evidence for the parents of William "Smith" Bryan?  Is there any reason NOT to detach his parents?  His middle name appears to be a 20th-century fabrication (see below), and there seems to be more legend than fact in his story, according to the following (which was posted on the wikitree profile of William's son Francis):

Genforum: "Update on Occurences of the name 'Morgan Bryan' in Ireland," posted by Paul Gifford, May 12, 2003: As to the name "Francis Bryan," this first appears as "Francis (?) Bryan" in J. W. Shearer, _The Shearer-Akers Family (Somerville, N.J.: Press of the Somerset Messenger, 1915). Shearer also is the first, as far as I've been able to tell, to write "William Smith Bryan" and make the rebellious landholder transported by Cromwell to Virginia, although Shearer, calls him "William Smith (?) Bryan." Later writers took away the question marks and these subsequently became "factual." Edward Bryan dropped the question mark from Francis and, in his 1946 article constructed the false descendancy from Sir Francis Bryan.
WikiTree profile: William Bryan
in Genealogy Help by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (95.5k points)
The arms are attributed to the Kentucky and Carolina Bryans in the Edward Bryan Kentucky article.

Of course the Kentucky and Carolina Bryans (including Edward himself) had had plenty of time to look up what their arms were in Burkes, like everybody else.
In other words, there is no documented use of the COA of Morgan Bryan. Do I have that right?  It is only his ancestors which claim these arms.
Um, his imagined ancestors.
Did Quakers use coats of arms?  Seems a bit militaristic.

I have yet to see any citation of any public record of Morgan Bryan, apart from his will.  Most of the facts come in two versions.

He married in 1719 at the New Garden Monthly Meeting (but nobody seems to have the actual date, though Quakers usually recorded these things). Or maybe it was in Virginia.  Or maybe it was 1695.

8 of his 9 kids were born in PA, or half of them were born in Virginia.

His wife died in 1747, or 1762.

The source for most things seems to be the "Bryan Papers".
Incidentally, Edward Bryan reckons that when Morgan headed south from Virginia he had 8 kids in tow, but Joseph the eldest stayed behind in Virginia, as well he might considering how much land they owned.

I'm not seeing how we get to the version where it's Joseph's daughter who marries Daniel Boone.

We're told that 3 Bryan sibs married 3 Boone sibs, but one of them seems to have been an uncle and another one can't be found.  Frankly I don't think anybody really knows where Rebecca fits in, and I'm starting to wonder if there's any evidence she was a Bryan.
Not sure in this case, I will check but there should be documents confirming the Quaker meetings, they documented everything. And some came from lines that did have crests, if they used them, I do not know!
Found cases of Quakers who fought, and those who wouldn't!

The Boone Society records that Daniel Boone's wife was Rebecca Bryan, b 9 Jan 1739 in Frederick Co, VA & d 18 March 1813 in Marthasville, St Charles Co, MO. They married Aug 14, 1756. It appears the source was DAR. The DAR record for Daniel Boone notes some issues, but not with who his wife was. See

  • Boone Society's pdf on 1st five generations of Boones (only has info on Rebecca - no info on her parents)
  • DAR record of Patriot Ancestor #[A012096] for Daniel Boone (ditto - wife Rebecca Bryan, no info on her parents)

For the Edward/Morgan etc. info, this article looks to be authoritative, and has a nice source list at the end, but it doesn't say what info came from where & appears to repeat the mythology without differentiating fact & fiction.

The FHL film from the Shane Collection that contains the Bryan family papers was already on my list of films to order, so I rented it. Hopefully it will be able to clear some stuff up!

There may be a historical precedent for the similarity between the O'Brien and de Bryan coat-of-arms as described here:

"Sir de Bryan died in 1390 with no male heirs, and possibly King Brian Catha Ua Briain, upon his arrival at Dublin to swear fealty to King Richard II, it is speculated by Ivar O'Brien that the King of Thomond assumed the de Bryan symbol because of name similarity. The de Bryan arms are, "or three piles meeting in base azure." The O'Brien quarter is differenced as, "argent three piles meeting in base gules." (13)"

Also I would point out that yDNA studies may disprove the claim that Morgan O'Brien is descended paternally from Sir Francis Bryan.  The Y chromosome (passed only from male to male) of descendants of Morgan Bryan appears to have "Dalcassian" markers similar to O'Brien descendants from County Clare, Ireland. See lines 168-190:

7 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

Have you reviewed the chapter "Bryan, A Pioneer Family" in the Register of Kentucky State Historical Society? It supports a direct lineage to Sir Francis Bryan and cites multiple authorities on the subject. The author also challenges many of the assumptions made in "The Shearer-Akers Family."

Bryan, Edward. "BRYAN, A PIONEER FAMILY." Register of Kentucky State Historical Society 40, no. 132 (1942): 318-22. 

by Colette Saucier G2G Crew (680 points)
selected by Douglas Bryan

all this is true, But I saw a person saying the1700 bryan was somehow related to Daniel Boone, then find this guy as a [brother] of prince William bryan? but why the name Boone?

George Boone


Birth 17 NOV 1646 • Exeter, Devon, England

Death 31 MAY 1696 • Exeter, Devon, England

The Boone connection is that Daniel Boone's wife was a Bryan.

We have 2 different versions of who her father was.

But then people claim y-DNA matches, and then people say you can't get y-DNA through a wife, so the myth gets another tweak.
I see, I don't know anything about this name really, it is in my tree.

I have Boones, but seems to come up as a xremoved deal, but what struck me was that bryan kin, is somehow named BOONE in 1600s and they marry Boone in 1800, in America?

A brother is listed as George Boone, to William Bryan of 1600? I haven't found any other marriage! to his mother. And did the Boones get sent to America with the Bryans?
A George Boone was buried at Stoke Canon in Devon 31 May 1696.

Presumably he was the father of Henry George and John.  Only George survived, and is supposed to have emigrated to Pennsylvania.

No birth record for George sr seems to have been found.  An old American genealogy said he died at 60, making his DoB 1636.

But the internet seems to have decided he was born in 1646, and is now adjusting his DoD to 1706 so he can still be 60.  Obviously the James Boone Genealogy wins over the parish register, because the English vicars were so incompetent they could register a burial 10 years before it happened.
Well it is interesting that names are same in two countries, but I find in my own tree, a severe loyalty to marrying the same name many times!

in both countrys

The jeaniesgenealogy website is the least impressive "source" to discredit the abundant number of independent family histories, as well as folklore, which have been consistent for over 140 years. Anyone can write a blog, and an amateur genealogist's unsupported opinion is not considered a tertiary - or even quaternary - resource.

I have been working with a Tudor/Stuart historian, and he states that the greatest challenge in locating primary sources was caused by the civil war, during which time thousands of church and civil records were destroyed, particularly in Ireland. The strongest evidence to support a connection between Morgan Bryan and Sir Francis Bryan is the shared components of their armorial bearings, but whether they are of direct lineage or distant cousins remains speculative.

I got a wild hair and decided to run my self against all known gateway ancestors, I match to all but 3 or 4? & they all have common ancestor's to the Wars to the Roses! or the civil war!

I know my family left England because of that! and all the names Beauchamp Beaufort Lancaster!

its a crazy thing, and not only that. I match all the presidents except 7

and they are all related to these people in some way also! here is a page to look at! the Presidents?

they could get her father! and thru AU or other positives prove her.

Seems like it could be used! but not on herself!

English historians are fascinated by the Tudors and Stuarts and Cromwell, and have been picking over the laundry lists since the time of Queen Anne.  Hundreds of books.

And yet this guy who "tried to steal the throne of Ireland" remains unknown to English and Irish history, in spite of his alleged popular fame.  He was unknown to everybody until discovered by Rev. Shearer (an amateur genealogist).

This is what Shearer says.  It's not much

There were hundreds if not thousands of these self-published American family histories that kicked off with a fantasy background for the immigrant.  That was the tradition of the genre.  Most immigrants had completely unknown and unknowable (and probably uninteresting) backgrounds, so they made up something outrageous, strictly for amusement only.

They're a major plague now, because people believe them.

This one is relatively mild in its original form.  But it's taken on a life of its own since then.  As often happens.  The next iteration will have a native princess in it.

Note the American end isn't exactly accurate.



Morgan Bryan may have had an interesting life prior to coming to America, but I wonder if his family history got modified in order to avoid persecution?  Y chromosome DNA studies do seem to show a descendancy from ancient Irish nobility (the O'Brien clan) which was centered around Clare County in that time period.  The last O'Brien homeland defenders and supporters of King James II formed a regiment called Clare's Dragoons that ultimately lost the Battle of the Boyne resulting in the "Flight of the Wild Geese" where many soldiers and O'Brien nobility fled Ireland, mostly to France. Shortly after the Battle, a Captain Morgan Bryan, Roman Catholic officer, was captured and then released under general order according to the records of King William III:;view=1up;seq=63
+3 votes
Sorry, wrong book!
Thank you
by Bettye Carroll G2G6 Mach 4 (46.5k points)
edited by Bettye Carroll

The William S. Bryan you cite (p 649) died in 1860. The William Smith Bryan under discussion is said to have been born in 1600 and does not have a son "Sir William Smith Bryan 'Prince William of Ireland.'" to leave attached, so I'm a bit lost on your comments. Could you add the WikiTree IDs of the Bryans you're referring to?

I did check out the book and would advise caution, as the "Bryan Record" section has no sources, includes disputed information, and is peppered with qualifiers (e.g., "is thought to be" "is said to have").

Cheers, Liz

p.s. I'm descended from the Briens of Nashville, who descend from William m Jane Clark, which is my Bryan brick wall.

Hi Liz,

Thank you for checking out the book. I looked at page 649 in the book again, and you are correct the William S. Bryan under discussion said to be born in 1600, and the William S. Bryan in the book said to have been born in 1860 are different people.

Sorry, for the confusion, I googled William S. Bryan, and came up with the book. My mistake was I should have checked the birth and death dates. My excuse is I was in a rush to get my Bryan family on wikitree.

To aswer the question, "Is there any evidence of William Bryan's parents?
No, I have no evidence of William Bryan's parents.

Thank you!
thanks for the IDs. I had tried to document Needham a while back (Bryan-1125) & just couldn't get anywhere on his mom. Good luck!
I thought so too, I am so confused I don't know what's going on!
+3 votes

The plot thickens.  This is the Missouri book

by Wm S Bryan in 1876 - except it isn't.  It's a reprint by W W Elwang in 1935.

The original book only had a one-page preface, and it only had the one William Bryan, the Welsh one on page 132, who immigrated to Maryland in 1650.  Then it skips over 2 or 3 generations and a State to another William Bryan, in NC, supposedly a descendant, who marries Sarah Bringer and has a daughter who marries Daniel Boone.

You can make your own mind up about the gap, but WSB didn't try to fill it.  Nor did he claim to be a descendant himself.

But the 1935 reprint has a long intro supplied by Elwang.  He discusses the original authors.  This is where we get the whole story about William Smith Bryan the rebellious subject, descended from Brian Boru

Elwang says he got the later part from Bryan himself and the earlier part from "other authors".  No connection is made with the Welsh Bryan, NC isn't mentioned, and nobody marries Daniel Boone, though the name Morgan does seem to feature in both families.

So the story in the "Bryan" book is basically the Shearer fable, as embroidered by other people.  But Elwang must have known there was something wrong with it, from the way he skates round the difficulties.

Ironically, he starts his intro with a paragraph about pedigree-faking.


by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)
edited by Anonymous Horace
sir Frances is my grandfather in a line, George Boone seems to be the namesake he has 2 sons. But fancies lines dies at Jonas Bedford (patriot) and Mercy Ammassa Travis Raymond? is that correct?
+2 votes

I found this and it will most likely stir things a little more but since my Butler line isn't that far back I followed along with all of you on this.

My apology if I missed a post and some of this has been discussed. Also, ahead of time let me say real sources given that are verifiable except here and there through this genealogy. It does explain the "Duchess of Ormond" and the Knight in shining armor stories however.

So, I decided for your reading enjoyment,( hopefully someone with better resources than me can check some of the claims made herein) to post what I found.



by Gigi Tanksley G2G6 Mach 3 (33.7k points)
Same worthless claims that include no documentation. Seriously, if William Smith Bryan was a noblemen with vast estates in Ireland, don't you think there would be at least one tiny shred of proof. Some little document which had his name on it. If he was such an adversary of Oliver Cromwell, one who raised an army against the English, wouldn't there be something written somewhere about him. If this nobleman was cast out of Ireland and shipped off with his family to Virginia, wouldn't there be some record of him in the Colonial records . Wouldn't he have gotten a land grant. Anything???
I didn't say it was accurate or sourced.

Thanks for reminding me yet again why I don't join G2G discussions. I simply said it would explain the blog post about the knight and the duchess connection.
lol Well Bryans were there and bryan are here so they did come! the rest I don't know!
+4 votes
Connecting and disconnecting parents and children is easy.  I strongly reccomend two things:

1.  Add a thorough discussion of the errors (or fraud) to both the parent and child profiles, so that the reader has the very best documentation of why the connection is false.

2.  Cross-link the disputed parent and child LNABs in the narrative, so anyone wishing to see the connection can quickly do so.

3.  Link the profile(s) to the appropriate category under Category: Fictional and Legendary Genealogy.

4.  Disconnect the parent and child.  If an error is made and they need to be reconnected, it's not a big deal, and the cross-links ensure that the needed information is preserved. Unlinking a parent and child is not undoable, like a merge.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (364k points)
Well I did try adding an Uncertain Existence, but it got removed.  So many sources!

In this case we don't just have a bad parentage, we have a chain of 3 non-people - Sir Francis jr, William Smith and Francis 3 - conjured out of thin air to cobble up a link between Morgan Bryan and the Countess of Ormond.

To debunk a myth on WikiTree you need to point to a source that debunks it.  But most myths have never been debunked in a TAG article, because they're too obvious.
+2 votes
So what have we got.

Denmark is contrived in to link up with the pension application story, which was presumably already in circulation.  It would be interesting to know if the pension application exists, or if that was an earlier myth.  If it does exist, there'll be no way of knowing how truthful it was.

Another point of collision is the wife of Daniel Boone.  WSB paints a picture in his "Life of Daniel Boone" of young Daniel going round to William Bryan's house to chat up his blooming, if not really handsome, bright-eyed daughter Rebecca.  It was normal in these things to wrap up the bare facts in imaginative fiction, but it's hard to know just how small the kernel of truth is here.  Did WSB know anything at all about Rebecca's family?

Then there's the Missouri connection.  Both the 1876 WSB story (p 132-4) and the 1935 Elwang story have to end in Missouri (where WSB lived).
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)

This is said to be William Bryans Brother, and his name is Boone!

George Boone


Birth 17 NOV 1646 • Exeter, Devon, England

Death 31 MAY 1696 • Exeter, Devon, England

his parents are same as Williams it says?

William, Sr. Bryan
Date: 11 Oct 1765
Location: Augusta Co., VA
Property: 133 acres on Roanoke River adjoining Joseph Love.
Notes: This land record was originally published in "Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County" by Lyman Chalkley.
Remarks: William Bryan, Sr. to son, William. 5.5. Delivered to Thos. Madison, Jan 1771.
Description: Grantor
Book: 12-313
Thanks, I hadn't!
So what's the connection between Jacob Stover who married Sarah Boone and Jacob Stover who didn't marry Mary Adkins and wasn't the Earl of Oxford?
+3 votes
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)
ooh - now I want to bend my tree to hook up with Francis!
It's said that Burghley drew up half a dozen pedigrees and then chose the one he liked best.  The internet is making it much easier nowadays.
Flagging this thread again.

His parents are still attached.

Was a conclusion ever reached?

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