BRANSFIELD FAMILY NAME
Text by committee member Liam O’Riordan, whose mother was a Bransfield.
The surname Bransfield is closely associated with east Cork in Ireland. Though sometimes thought of as English, it was in fact brought to Ireland in its present form by the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. Bransfield is thought to be a corrupt form of Blanchfield, which itself is derived from the Norman de Blanchville and was originally associated with Kilkenny, the seat of Hiberno-Norman rule in the middle ages in Ireland. Edward McLysaght, the noted authority on Irish surnames, lists Bransfield as a toponymic surname, that is one that is taken from a placename.
In Scotland Bransfield is regarded as the habitational name from a farm in the Strathclyde region of Scotland. Some think it is of Viking origin, passed on by Viking settlers in Normandy, and may have been Brons-Feld, roughly translated as ‘a brown field’. This would also reinforce the suggestion that the name is a toponymic surname.
Many well-known modern Irish surnames, such as Butler, Burke, Fitzgerald, Fitzmaurice and Walsh, are of Norman origin but often seen as distinctly Irish. The Bransfield surname is similar, principally found in Ireland in the eastern part of County Cork and to a much lesser extent in west Waterford. In east Cork the name was more widely known in the mid 1800s than at the present time (2019). Many of those named Bransfield in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada are descendants of the Irish Bransfields. The 1901 Census of Ireland recorded 137 individuals named Bransfield. Of these, 104 were resident in Cork with 21 in Waterford. By the 1911 Census there were 131 records, 115 resident in Cork and 11 in Waterford.
An official Irish Government examination certificate awarded to my late mother Helena Josephine Bransfield in 1941 translates her name into the Irish Language (Gaeilge) as Eiblin de Prionnbiol, thus giving official Irish recognition to the surname Bransfield.
The Bransfield families resident in Cobh and Carrigaline at the present time are all directly related and can trace their linage back to William Bransfield who was born in 1791 in Cove, as it was then known. His direct descendents who carry the name Bransfield are still living in modern day Cobh, Carrigaline and Malmo, Sweden.
In my genealogical research into my Bransfield ancestry I have traced the family as far back as 1791 in a direct line and all resident in Cove (later Queenstown and then Cobh) up to the present generation. I have found no evidence that the Cobh Bransfields are related to any of the other Bransfields in Carrigtwohill, Midleton or Aghada.