Select Berry Surname Genealogy

The surname Berry derives from the Old English byrig, meaning a fortified place, or the later beri, denoting a fortified manor house. 

The place-name Bury, found in Lancashire and Suffolk amongst other places, comes from the same root. Bury was recorded as Byrig in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles in 974
Richard de Bury, born near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, was made Bishop of Durham in 1333 and Lord Chancellor of England in 1335. 

There were Dukes of Berry (duc be Berry), once a province in central France, but these Berrys remained in France

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England.  The early appearances of the name were in the southwest of England.  Gilbert de la Beri was recorded in the pipe rolls of Cornwall in 1202.

Devon  A Berry family was established in the 13th century
as the lords of the manor of Berry Narbor.near Ilfracombe on the north coast of Devon.  There were subsequent branches at Crosscombe and Chittlehampton.  Henry and Richard Berry were among the 187 colonists from here that sailed to the Roanoke Island colony in America in 1587 and never returned.  Admiral Sir John Berry, instrumental in the founding of Newfoundland in 1675, was also from this family.  The Berry Narbor line apparently died out, without a known male heir, in 1708.

In Exeter in the mid-1700’s was the wine merchant John Berry.  His son George moved to London in 1803 and took over what became the London wine merchants of Berry Bros. & Rudd on St. James’s Street. 

Yorkshire and Lancashire.  There have been more Berrys in the north, in Yorkshire and Lancashire, but less luminous. 

The place-name of Berry Brow near Huddersfield may have given rise to the Berry name in that area.  The Berry family of maltsters in the town came be traced back to Robert Berry in 1700.  John Berry was born in Huddersfield in 1734.   Jonas Berry married Sarah Ellis in Huddersfield in 1805. 

Henry Berry was the surveyor who completed the work on the Liverpool docks in the 1750’s; while John Berry was recorded in Liverpool as an anchorsmith in 1763.  Thomas Berry was a Liverpool merchant who traded to Jamaica in the early 1800’s.  Edwin Berry, a local solicitor, and his son Arthur were primarily responsible for the development of Liverpool football club in the early 1900’s. 

.  The Berry newspaper barons originated in Wales.  J.M. Berry rose from humble beginnings to become mayor of Merthyr Tydfil in 1912.  His three sons – Henry, William and Gomer - were joint owners of the Daily Telegraph and were created Viscounts Buckland, Camrose, and Kemsley.  Gomer founded Kemsley Newspapers which in its time owned The Sunday Times, Daily Sketch, and Sunday Graphic amongst its titles. 

ScotlandBerrys have come from NE Fife on the east coast of Scotland:
  • Robert Berry who grew up in the parish of Leuchars emigrated to North Carolina in the 1750’s.  
  • John Berry built his home at Tayfield on the Inverdovat estate in 1788 and seven generations of Barrys have lived there since that time.
  • while James Berry was a tenant farmer at Cupar from the 1780’s until his death in 1827.  His two sons were to find fame and fortune in Australia, Alexander as a merchant and explorer and David as a cattle breeder and landowner.
The 1861 census registered 40 Berrys at Leuchars, close to 10% of the population recorded at the time.  One family there traces itself back to the marriage of Patrick and Elspeth Berry in Leuchars in 1684. 

Ireland.  The surname Berry appeared in Galway and Mayo as an anglicized form of the Gaelic O’Beara or O’Beargha.  Thomas Berry was elected as the Sovereign of Tuam in Galway in 1751 and a number of Berrys were later to be found on Lettermullen Island off Galway.  In Mayo the Berry name has been most associated with the Mayo News.  James Berry had a column there in the early 1900’s describing the tales that he had heard as a young man growing up in Mayo.  The newspaper is now owned by a Berry family.

English Berrys had come over to Ireland in the 17th century and settled initially in Westmeath.  They later made their home at Eglish castle in Offaly county, from 1776 to 1876

America.  Early Berrys in America included: 
  • Johan and Susanna Berry who were Christian missionaries who came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1631.  They returned.  But their son William stayed and was the first settler at Sandy Beach in Rye nearby.  
  • Henry Berry who arrived in Virginia around the year 1650 and acquired land at Occupacia Creek in Old Rappahannock county.  His descendants remained in that area until after the Revolutionary War. Washington Berry then headed west with his family to new land in what is now Dayton, Ohio.  
  • James Berry, a Puritan leader who came to Maryland from Virginia in 1652 (after a religious dispute) and bought the Seat Pleasant land along the Patuxent river.  Morris Berry moved to Kentucky in 1799.  
  • Dr. Samuel Berry who arrived in Maryland around 1700 and settled in Charles county.  A later Berry was the 19th century tobacco farmer and judge Thomas Baker Berry.  
  • while Captain John Berry who had served in Barbados was granted land in Bergen county, New Jersey in 1669 and later acted as the deputy governor of the colony.  A descendant John Berry built the Yereance-Berry House which is now maintained as a museum.  
There were Berrys in Culpepper county, Virginia in the early 1700’s that spread across the South – to Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.  This lineage was traced in Lynn Hamilton’s 1980 book The Family of Elijah Berry.  Another Berry line from Virginia led to John Berry, a pioneer frontiersman in Texas who has been commemorated by the Berry Spring Park near his home in Georgetown.  His descendants meet up there annually.

James Berry came to Pennsylvania from Ireland around 1715 and settled in Augusta county, Virginia sometime in the 1740’s.  Later Berrys migrated to Kentucky, Alabama, and to Arkansas which was where James Henderson Berry grew up.  He attended
Berryville Academy in Berryville (named after a relative, Blackburn Henderson Berry).  After an adventurous Civil War where he lost his right leg and was captured by the enemy, he rose the political ranks to become the US Senator for Arkansas in 1885, a position he was to hold for the next 22 years.

“Berry’s wartime experiences deeply affected his outlook and activities.  Until his death nearly fifty years later, he retained close ties to his fellow veterans and spoke at many Confederate gatherings and reunions.” 

His cousin Campbell Berry who grew up with him in Arkansas moved to California in 1857 and served in the California State Assembly. 

The James Berry line also led to Thomas Berry in Alabama, a lieutenant in the Mexican War, a forty-niner in the California gold rush, and a captain for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  His daughter Martha was the founder of the Berry Schools for academically able but economically poor children of the rural South in the early 1900’s.

Mary Berry was a Loyalist widow who was granted land in Digby county, Nova Scotia.  She came there with her three sons in 1784.  Her line was traced in Wayne Walker’s 1992 book The Berry Family of Nova Scotia. 
Thomas Berry was a British soldier in the Revolutionary War who, on discharge in 1784, was granted land in Canada.  He settled in Coverdale, New Brunswick.  Some of his descendants later headed west to British Columbia.

New Zealand.  Thomas Berry, who said he was descended from the French Duc de Berri, came to Nelson with his family in 1846.  He would make that claim even though he was just a brush maker in London before his departure.  Thomas died in Nelson in 1872 at the age of 76.  He was married three times and has left a large number of descendants.

Select Berry Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Berry Names

Sir John Berry commanded annual convoys to Newfoundland and was instrumental in the founding of the colony in 1675.
Martha Berry was the founder of the Berry Schools for academically able but economically poor children of the rural South n the early 1900’s.
Gomer Berry was an English newspaper publisher, the founder of Kemsley Newspapers.
Wendell Berry
is a prolific American novelist, poet, environmental activist, and Kentucky farmer.
Chuck Berry
is an American rock and roll singer and songwriter

Select Berrys Today
  • 40,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 47,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 21,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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