The Australian city of Brisbane is named after Admiral Sir Charles Brisbane (1769 -1829), but this was many centuries after the creation of the surname. Of pre medieval Anglo-Scottish origins, it has a particulary interesting history. The derivation is from the ancient words "brise" meaning a break, and "ban" - a bone, "break bone". The surname, first recorded in the 13th century may be occupational and to have referred to a doctor, one who repaired broken bones, or it maybe a nickname for one who "broke bones". If so this could be a reference to a wild character, or more likely to an official torturer or similar, whose job it was to break bones! The various etymological directories are largely silent on the meaning, which draws the inevitable conclusion that the origin was unpleasant. Be that as it may it does not seem to have prevented the nameholders from succeeding in the world. Early recordings include John Brusebon in the 1297 accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall, and William Brisbone, a Scottish archer recorded in Roxburgh in 1298. It is said that the Brisbanes of Brisbane, Scotland, aquired the lands of Killingcraig, Largs, in the year 1400, and thereafter it was known as the barony of Brisbane. Other examples of the recordings include Commodore Sir James Brisbane (1774 - 1826) and Sir Thomas MacDougall Brisbane (1775 - 1860), soldier and Master Astronomer. The first known recording of the surname anywhere in the world is that of Ralph Briseban, in the rolls of the county of Middlesex, England, in the year 1275.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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