William Bryan

William Smith Bryan (abt. 1599 - abt. 1667)

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William Smith "Prince" Bryan
Born about in Clare, County Clare, Irelandmap
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about in Denmarkmap
Descendants descendants
Died about in Gloucester, Virginiamap
Profile last modified | Created 30 Dec 2010 | Last significant change: 29 Mar 2019
23:54: John Atkinson edited the Biography for William Smith Bryan (abt.1599-abt.1667). [Thank John for this | 1 thank-you received]
This page has been accessed 6,538 times.
Research suggests that this person may never have existed. See the text for details.
US Southern Colonies.
William Bryan settled in the Southern Colonies in North America prior to incorporation into the USA.
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Ireland Native
William Bryan was born in Ireland.


Disputed Existence

There is not a single piece of documentary evidence from Ireland, Denmark, or Virginia which proves that this man ever lived. All the evidence provided so far is repeated family stories. If you are making changes to this profile please make sure you are using original and not derivative sources.

The story of William Smith Bryan (WSB) is one of a brave Irish rebel who was along with his family, his household belongings and horses, deported to Virginia by Cromwell c. 1650. Why he was singled out for this rather gentle deportation when 50,000 of his fellow countrymen were deported as indentured labourers to the Caribbean is not made clear. The 'sources' given for him are all authored books which contain family stories and family trees on the internet. Examples of these are The Colonial Families of the United States and its word-for-word duplicate, Lineage of Colonial Families, both given here as sources.

His father is said to be Sir Francis Bryan, a large landholder in County Clare, Ireland. Records exists for everyone who was knighted from the 1300' until today but his name is not included. WSB marries in Denmark of all places a young Welsh girl by the name of Catherine Morgan. Why? What document supports this claim? WSB fights against Cromwell during his invasion. He is called 'The Prince of Ireland' by his supporters. No mention of this can be found in any record.

There are searchable records for County Clare landholders in 1641, WSB in not on any record. There are lists of claims submitted for the reclamation of lands after the restoration of the monarchy. Francis Bryan, son of WSB, supposedly died in Ireland trying to reclaim family land, but his name is not on any list. For unknown reasons Francis travels to Denmark and marries, again no explanation or documentation, Sarah Brinker. They died in Belfast far from County Clare, why?

Meanwhile in Virginia, WSB continues his undocumented existence. No record exists that would prove he lived. He has a host of undocumented children, some have specific birthdates and death, unusually, most occur on the 1st of June, a sure sign of something fishy. He has many sons who are completely undocumented despite the fact that lived, married and died in Virginia.[1]


William Smith Bryan was born circa 1599 in Clare, County Clare, Ireland. He married Catherine Morgan. He was the father of eleven sons and three daughters. [2] [3]

Name: William Smith Bryan
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 1600
Birth Place: Claire, Ireland
Death Date: 1667
Father: Sir Frances (Jr) Bryan
Mother: Ann Smith
Spouse: Catherine Morgan
Children: Francis Iii Bryan

He was deported from Ireland because of his support for the Irish cause during the Puritan Revolution {citation needed} Also note that the invasion of Ireland by Cromwell in 1649 was not a "Puritan Revolution." Cromwell and his New Model Army blazed through Ireland in order to rout Royalists and their Irish supporters. [4] [5]

Name: Wm. Bryan
Arrived By: 1654
Sponsors: Abraham Moone
Residence Place: Virginia
Reference: Early Virginia Immigrants; 1623–1666 B
William Smith Bryan . . . a landholder in Ireland, County Clare, at the time of the British invasion under Cromwell, and for taking the side of Ireland was transported as a rebellious subject, in 1650, to the American Colonies, with his family, goods and chattels, consisting of a ship load.

Lineage from Colonial families of the United States of America. . ., p. 104. [6]

In another text, this quote is pivotal in the level of detail provided, despite the level of disorganization and apparent typesetter's holiday:

William Smith Bryan, transported to (Virginia), as a rebellious subject, settled in Gloucester County; Francis (d 1694) returned to Ireland in attempt to recover hereditary titles and estates, sought refuge in Denmark, where he m Sally Brinker;[7] If William Smith Bryan was held hereditary rights to titles and estates why is there no record of him or his titles or his estates?

Excerpt from Colonial Families of the United States of America[8]

WILLIAM SMITH BRYAN was a landholder in Ireland, County Clare, at the time of the British invasion under CROMWELL, and for taking the side of Ireland was transported as a rebellious subject, in 1650, to the American Colonies, with his family, goods and chattels, consisting of a ship load. He settled in Gloucester County, Virginia; he had eleven sons.
Morgan BRYAN, who was in Norfolk County in 1693, was probably one of these sons. Francis BRYAN, the oldest son, returned to Ireland, in 1677, and endeavored to recover his hereditary titles and estates, but was so greatly persecuted by the English Government that he sought refuge in Denmark. After a few years he returned to Ireland. His oldest son Morgan was born in Denmark. It is believed that William BRYAN, b. in 1685, was also his son.
William BRYAN and his wife, Margaret, lived at Ballyroney, County Down, Ireland. They were Presbyterians. The town of Bryansford near by is said to have been named for some of his family. William and Margaret BRYAN one day sent their little son John into the woods to cut a stick to make a handle for a book used in weaving, and he was arrested for poaching. After much trouble and expense the father got him clear and immediately sailed for America, where, he said, timber was free and there were no constables. This was in the year 1718.
William BRYAN and family settled in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.[9]

Note: The Irish Confederate Wars, also called the Eleven Years' War (derived from the Irish language name Cogadh na hAon Bhliana Déag), took place in Ireland between 1641 and 1653.

Society of Friends, also called Friends Church, byname Quakers, Christian group that arose in mid-17th-century England, dedicated to living in accordance with the “Inward Light,” or direct inward apprehension of God, without creeds, clergy, or other ecclesiastical forms. As most powerfully expressed by George Fox (1624–91), Friends felt that their “experimental” discovery of God would lead to the purification of all of Christendom. It did not; but Friends founded one American colony and were dominant for a time in several others, and though their numbers are now comparatively small, they continue to make disproportionate contributions to science, industry....

Research Notes

Unproven Family of Consent

William Smith Bryan married Catherine Morgan (born 1604). William Smith Bryan and Catherine Morgan were both born in County Claire, Ireland. During the Puritan Rebellion, William Smith Bryan attempted to gain the throne of Ireland and was dubbed, “Prince William of Ireland” by his followers. Sometime about 1650 or 1660, William Smith Bryan and Catherine Morgan were exiled to Virginia by Oliver Cromwell for anti-English insurgent activities. He is said to have been "dropped" at Gloucester Beach, Virginia. He arrived in Virginia with a shipload of personal belongings and his wife, eleven sons, and three daughters. They were among the first English to bring horses to the British colony of Virginia. William Smith Bryan and Catherine Morgan both died in Gloucester, Virginia. Children of William Smith and Catherine (Morgan) Bryan include:

Francis Bryan III
John Bryan
William Bryan
Immediately preceding content previously featured on Enjoy Irish Culture website, but apparently since removed.

William Smith Bryan (b. 1570, d. 1667) William Smith Bryan (son of Francis Bryan II and Ann Smith) was born 1600 in County Clare, Ireland, and died 1667 in Gloucester, Virginia. He married Catherine Morgan on Abt. 1631.

Marriage: Catherine MORGAN b: 1594 in County Clare, Ireland
Married: Before 1624 in Denmark
Children (all born in County Clare, Ireland) [10]
  1. David BRYAN
  2. Morgan BRYAN
  3. Henry BRYAN
  4. Edward BRYAN
  5. Edmund BRYAN
  6. William II BRYAN
  7. James BRYAN
  8. Richard BRYAN
  9. Margaret BRYAN
  10. Lydia BRYAN
  11. Catherine BRYAN
  12. Thomas BRYAN b: 1619
  13. John BRYAN b: 1625
  14. Francis III BRYAN b: 1630
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 29 March 2019), memorial page for William Smith Bryan (Jun 1579–Jun 1667), Find A Grave Memorial no. 185655418, citing Bryans Island Cemetery, Gloucester County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by John Wilhite (contributor 48140210) . Find A Grave: Memorial #185655418
This F-A-G memorial has links to multiple family member memorials

Miscellaneous Representations from the Web

RootsWeb profile on William Smith Bryan

Geni profile: William Bryan "Prince William of Ireland" "William Smith Bryan" - includes an extensive, but unsourced, narrative.

Pedigree Resource file on FamilySearch for Bryan family. Some of the Bryan's settled in Rutherford, County, NC where some Bryan descendants currently live.


  1. https://www.jeaniesgenealogy.com/2019/02/william-smith-bryan-lesson-in-17th.html
  2. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, https://ancstry.me/2YsYI3Y; Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
  3. Millennium File, https://ancstry.me/2JPw75y; Heritage Consulting. Millennium File [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2003.
  4. Mackenzie, George Norbury & Rhoades, Nelson Osgood, editors. Colonial Families of the United States of America: in Which is Given the History, Genealogy and Armorial Bearings of Colonial Families Who Settled in the American Colonies From the Time of the Settlement of Jamestown, 13th May, 1607, to the Battle of Lexington, 19th April, 1775. Vol 7. 1912, pages 104-5. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, Inc. Reprint.
  5. Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666, https://ancstry.me/2FKgTe7; Greer, George Cabel. Early Virginia Immigrants 1623-1666. Richmond, VA, USA: W. C. Hill Printing Co., 1912.
  6. Match on a migration record: US and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s: William Smith Bryan, Arrival: Virginia 1650 Ancestry Record 7486 #3967835, https://ancstry.me/2CLAQPN citing Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2012.
  7. Virkus, Frederick A editor & Marquis, Albert Nelson. The Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy: First Families of America: A Genealogical Encyclopedia of the United States. Vol 1, 1925, page 334. Chicago: A N Marquis & Company.
  8. From Colonial families of the United States of America. . ., p. 104-5.
  9. Spraker, Hazel Atterbury. The Boone Family. (Notes for William Smith Bryan). 1922. Rutland, Vermont: The Tuttle Company.
  10. Rootsweb : ID: I19265 : Descendants of Guy de Brienne William Smith BRYAN birth about 1590 in County Clare, Ireland death 1667 in Gloucester Co., Virginia


This person was created through the import of LaBach Family TreeApril28_2011.ged on 05 May 2011.

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On 29 Mar 2019 at 22:34 GMT Lisa (Phelps) Linn wrote:

I don't know who wrote the "Disputed Existence" section of this profile, but it needs removing/revising. WSB was a very real person. A descendant has done a great deal of research and posted it as "A brief History of the Bryan Family" It includes the pedigree and shows links to the Plantagenet family. Here: https://alistairgraham.com/FamilyTree/Bryan%20Family%20History.html

Also, given that there is a Y-DNA match on the page, it is my opinion that that section should be removed altogether, and the descendant's research be consulted. It includes reputable sources. We have no primary sources, so unless someone would like to travel to County Clare, I suggest we use what is available to make the profile the best it can be.

On 16 Feb 2019 at 13:46 GMT Brock Riggs wrote:

Can someone educate me on the meaning of the heading "Unproven family of consent" in this biography? I'm not familiar with the expression "family of consent" and couldn't find much using Google.

On 14 Feb 2019 at 22:45 GMT Jeanie (Thornton) Roberts wrote:

All of the sources are authored works that do not provide the needed documentary evidence needed to prove these people are real. What we need is an actual document from his lifetime, a deed, a court case a mention in a contemporary document. Nothing like this has been provided. All these 'sources' are based on family stories, not actual documented facts.

On 14 Feb 2019 at 00:09 GMT Heather Jenkinson wrote:

On 13 Feb 2019 at 23:54 GMT Heather Jenkinson wrote:

On 4 Feb 2019 at 09:04 GMT C. Mackinnon wrote:

On 22 Jan 2019 at 18:54 GMT Fann Fann wrote:

This profile would be a lot stronger if the family tree sites that are cited were all moved to research notes. The only exception to placing trees in Sources should be when the tree has sources attached to in, in which case the references should ideally refer to the citation "as cited by/in X." (Also, the html code could be properly bracketed for all hyperlinks.)

On 2 Jan 2019 at 13:43 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Still disputed:

1. Middle name "Smith" 2. Parents Francis Bryan-73 and Ann Smith-5430

On 2 Jul 2018 at 00:07 GMT Brock Riggs wrote:

Thanks to those who have pointed out some of the undocumented and questionable sounding claims here. I did a quick internet search and found a page detailing the evolution of the myth of William Bryan. Sounds like the "Prince William of Ireland" was traced back to an ancestory.com post. Prior to that, there is evidence of him being deported in 1615 or by Cromwell in 1650 for being a "rebellious subject." I'll try to add some of this info and cite to the sources from that page, but someone else may need to clean up the conflicting information.

On 29 Jun 2018 at 18:00 GMT Gerald Jones wrote:

Apparently so.

"Prince William of Ireland, Deported to America by Cromwell for attempting to take Irish Throne!"

more comments

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