Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Question from Kerry - Portrait of Sir Francis Bryan

I am a descendant of Sir Francis Bryan (1490-1550), boy-companion and courtier to Henry VIII. Sir Francis was the man who petitioned the Pope for Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and he was also a cousin of Anne Boleyn. Bryan was a poet, author, cypherer, diplomat, soldier, and the closest confidante of the King. I am seeking a portrait of Sir Francis Bryan. He was painted by the famous court painter Hans Holbein, but the portrait has never been found. Does anyone have any idea where it may repose? He is distinguished by wearing an eye-patch, one eye having been put out in a jousting match.


Anonymous said...

If Hans Holbein painted a portrait of Francis Bryan and that portrait still exists, it would be listed in the modern catalogue raisonne (inventory of works) for Holbein. Have you checked a local library for the lastest version of the Holbein catalogue? Holbein is such a well known artist and has been so thoroughly researched that it seems very unlikely that a painting known to be by him would not be listed in major art history references. I did check a number of online academic art history databases not accessible to the general public and found no reference to any portrait of Francis Bryan, whether by Holbein or someone else. Indeed, Susan Brigden states in her article on Bryan in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography that no portrait of Sir Francis survives. Perhaps the story that Sir Francis was painted by Holbein is simply another example of the multitude of people supposedly painted by the master who were in fact never portrayed at all?

Anonymous said...

I am a descendant of Sir Francis Bryan. My ancestor, Winifred Bryan
Cole, wrote a book about the Bryan/
Cole family. He states in his book that Sir Francis did not want a portrait because of his eyeloss. There is a portrait of his brother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Carew by Holbein. He was married to Sir Francis' sister. I believe I saw the portrait at Windsor Castle.

spudmama said...

wow, i never knew there were so many of us descendents of sir francis still hanging around. my grandmother was minnie russel bryan, descendant of william bryan and mary boon of bryan station, kentucky.

Anonymous said...

My husband is also a decendant of Sir Frances Bryan and I am a decendant of Mary Tudor of Scotland. Our whole family is of noble blood as they say. I have not seen any portrait of Sir Frances Bryan but did see the one at Windsor Castle of his brother-in-law when I was there, but this has been over 10 years ago. I have researched my family all the way back to 1200 in England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland and have found many Noble families from which my family has decended from.

Anonymous said...

I also have a copy of the Bryan/Cole history.
I have looked for modern/historical pictures of a family crest, anyone have one?

A. Bryant said...

There's no surviving portrait of Sir Francis Bryan. It is rumored that he destroyed every existing portrait of himself and refused to have another painted because of the loss of his eye in a joust. He was very vain. I am a descendant of Sir Francis through William & Mary Boone Bryan, sister of the famous Daniel Boone.

Anonymous said...

i am a descendant also and the cousin that has gotten parts of the line back to the time of Rome has not found any portrait of Sir Francis.

Anonymous said...

I too am a descendant of Sir Francis Bryan. He's my 12th great grandfather. I was looking for some portraits or paintings of him and other ancestors on the Bryan family side. I find the whole experience of searching for your ancestors to be so exciting and intriguing.

Marsha said...

As others here have said, I, too, am a descendant of Sir Francis Bryan.

Sir Frances Bryan ** (1490 - 1550)
is your 11th great grandfather------

Sir Francis II Bryan ** (1549 - )
Son of Sir Frances----------

William Smith Bryan ** (1600 - 1667)
Son of Sir Francis II ------

Sir Frances III Bryan ** (1630 - 1693)
Son of William Smith------

Cornelius Bryan ** (1694 - 1751)
Son of Sir Frances III-------

William Bryan ** (1728 - 1795)
Son of Cornelius--------

Rebecca Bryan ** (1765 - 1818)
Daughter of William------- After that the Bryan name ends.

It has been so fascinating to me to find all this ancestry. Up until recently, I didn't even have any of the names before Rebecca Bryan and I've been working on my genealogy since 1977. I've been seeking a portrait of some kind, after reading what the other "cousins" have written, I suppose I will stop looking for one. I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments, thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

My last name is Bryan and I can trace my ancestry back to the early 1800s without any trouble, and all the way back to Sir Francis with some hesitancy. With William Smith Bryan coming to America with 13 children, it is difficult to determine which line I am descended through. If there are any who could give me some help on this matter I would be indebted.

Nancy Bryan Aiken said...

I've been researching my Bryans for 35 years and decided recently that I had better start compiling the information into something readable. While checking some loose ends, I found a website that questioned the existence of William Smith Bryan. This sent me to books and records that I hadn't searched before. Unfortunately, I have come up without proof of his existence...let alone the existence of Francis II and Francis III. Can any of you help with references to prove these people ever lived?
Thanks so much! Nancy Bryan Aiken

Nancy Bryan Aiken said...

Hi, I've been researching my Bryans for 35 years and recently decided that I had better start compiling my information into a family history. While researching some loose ends, I found a website that questioned the existence of Frances II and III and William Smith Bryan. I've since run down every lead and come up empty-handed. Can any of you verify with a reliable reference the existence of these people?

Nancy Bryan Aiken said...

What do I have to do to leave a comment?

Lara said...

All comments are moderated, so they were in the queue waiting for approval.

cheap_papa3000@yahoo,com said...

It is my understanding that the
portrait that you inquire of was destroyed by great grandfather
during one of his drunken bouts.
Sad but he truely had deep issues
with the loss of his eye and the
stigma he precieved of it. I am a
7th great indirect grandson of his
lineage. Needham Bryan I and Anne
Rambeau through their son, William
Bryan by means of his daughter,
Elizabeth Bryan Sasser-Blackmon by
her son, John Blackmon and wife,
Candise Gunter-Blackmon, by means of their daughter, Susanna Blackmon and her husband, Warren Wicker, and by their daughter who
is my great grandmother, Nannie
Catherine Wicker, who married Neal
Archibald Stone, then through their
son, John David Blackmon Stone and
his wife, Georgia May Medlin and then their daughter and my mother Elizabeth Stone-Jones. Long trail to follow but it's there for the
seeing. Oh!! Needham Bryan I was a
grandson of William Smith Bryan.
He and both of his sons, William and Needham Bryan II, along with
William and Needham II's father-in law, Joseph Smith, provided and
founded the town of Smithfield,
North Carolina. The two brother's married Smith sisters.

Anonymous said...

Wow! So many descendants. I to am a direct descendent of Sir frances Bryan. By way of nancy Linville Daughter of Elinor Bryan. Nancy linville Was the wife of Goerge Boone, brother Of Daniel Boone.

Anonymous said...

We are direct descendants Of Francis Bryan Son William Smith Bryan son William Bryan and Alice Needham son Edward Bryan. I am looking for any information regarding Francis Bryan.
I also am looking for any paintings of our Bryan decedents or wives.
Stuart Alan Bryan

Anonymous said...

I do not see any response to the question last year of Nancy Bryan Aiken about whether anyone had proof of the existence of William Smith Bryan, Francis Bryan II, and Francis Bryan III. I wonder whether there are any people alive today who are truly the descendants of Sir Francis Bryan. His family was among prominent nobility in England and, if he had sons who survived to produce children (or grandchildren) who emigrated to America, wouldn't there be records? Many of us Americans with Bryan ancestry have longstanding traditions in our families that we descend from Sir Francis Bryan and his second wife, Lady Joan Fitzgerald. I assumed these traditions to be true when, two years ago, I took over from my mother her 50 years of genealogy research. I now fear that this interesting lineage from Sir Francis is the product of unsourced books--popular among us Bryan descendants--such as James William Shearer's 1915 book, Edward Bryan's "Brianiana", and "The Spear and the Spindle." I now doubt that either of the children that Sir Francis had with Joan Fitzgerald lived long enough to produce living issue. I would love to be proved wrong!

Anonymous said...

Me Lrd, I think not I'd admit lineage after seeing him on the Tudors and vast readings on him. Me thinks he was probably a rather nasty one to women and didn't care if they wanted it or not!
(a proud Huenout)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janie said...

Email address below.

I am a granddaughter of Sir Francis Bryan William Smith Bryan was born in 1600 to Francis Bryan III and Ann Smith who married in 1580. He was born in Claire, Ireland. He died in Glouchester, Virginia. Their son was Francis Bryan IV who was born in 1630 in Claire, Ireland and died in 1693 in Belfast, Ireland. He married Sarah Brinker in 1667. Their son, William Bryan was born in 1685 in Ireland and died in 1789 in Virginia. He married a woman whose first name was Margaret. THeir daughter was Mary Bryan born 1709 In Ireland and died in 1772 in ORange County, Virginia. She married PHillip P. Bush about 1732. Their son wa Josiah BUsh born July 5, 1733, died 1781 in W ashington County, Virginia. He married Sarah Lewis Brown. THeir James Bush was born about 1750 in Orange County, Virginia and he married Mary Polly Plunkett. Their daughter, Ann Bush, was born 1763 in Amhurst, Russell County, VA. She married Henry Neace Sr. in 1779. in Culpepper, VA. She died in Lost Creek, Breathitt County, KY, September 15, 1881. Virginia Jane Neace was born in Shenandoah Valley, Russell, CO., VA, about 1784 from that union and married Nathen Noble, Sr. in 1798. Lydia Noble was born to them March 25, 1815 in Kentucky and married Henry EPhraim Fields. THeir daughter wa Amanda Melvina Fields who was born in Breathitt Co. Kentucky in 1853. She married Samuel Hughes December 29, 1872 in Oregon, MO. They had my beloved great- grandmother - Nellie Hughes who married Bail Karr and they had my lovely grandmother, Anna May Karr-Barto-Schmidt who just passed away in 2011 at 86 years old. I omitted any other children each couple had - only concentrating on my lineage. I have a lot more information including surname list as I have pasted below if anyone is interested.

?, Alan, Alexander, Alfonsez, Ashton, Bachmadel, Baker, Bartenschlag, Bayley, Bickel, Blatser, Bouchier, Bowsey, Bradshaw, Braken, Breyhel, Brinker, Brown, Broyles, Bruce, Bryan, Burdett, Bures, Bush, Christler, Cotton, Cupper, De Brienne, De Bryan, De La Pole, De Montagu, De Montfaucon, De Sully, De Tracy, Dent, Doll, Dunbar, Durr, Eayton, Echyngham, Edwards, Fields, Fishback, Fitzgerald, Flamm, Fleishman, Fleishmann, Fletcher, Fowke, Frey, Frick, Fritz, Frizer, Gerder, Gerdes, Gilbert, Graves, Harbert, Hengsteler, Hewett, Hilsenbeck, Holtzworth, Hughes, Humfriestone, Hurd, Jackson, Jager, Keinzlin, Klaar, Kneer, Knoblauch, Kobler, Kuentzlin, Kuentzlins, Luchyn, Lusignan, Lutz, Mack, Mays, Metzger, Moore, Morgan, Morse, Mueller, Musgrave, Neace, Neher, Neihs, Nelson, Newman, Nicholson, Noble, Offley, Osborne, Pfister, Plunkett, Raynsford, Reuber, Roup, Roush, Ruefflin, Saunders, Schelling, Schneider, Schone, Schopp, Schwan, Sergeant, Sieber, Smith, Snell, Staehlin, Stokes, Stokle, Straub, Stump, Sulzmann, Sybilla, Thorogood, Thorowgood, Traub, Unknown, Walke, Weaver, Weber, Weib, Wheeler, Wilhite, Wilhoit, Wilhoite, Wilkinson, Willert, Willheit, Williams, Wright, Yeager

My email address is

Please put a geneology subject heading so I don't delete any emails accidentally.

Good luck! Janie

Anonymous said...

hi i am also a descendant of Sir Francis Bryan. my grand mother was a Williams. it is so cool to stumble upon others that came form the same place as you..i know i sound silly..but i find it extremely cool! my email address is for anyone who wants to exchange stuff we find..

PB said...

It always gets back to the same issue: There are tons of genealogical narratives on the internet but very little documentation or citation of sources. The longer one does genealogical research, the less value one places on unsourced, unproven narratives. No matter how long or detailed they are, they are nothing more than internet rumors. Evidence please.

J Bryan said...

I to am wondering about the william smith bryan. I think that morgan bryan was really an O' Brien and changed it before coming to America. Was more like Murrough O'Brien

Anonymous said...

I am wondering about Edmund Bryan, supposedly the son of Thomas Bryan and his first wife, Phillipa Spice. Does anyone have any sources or evidence mentioning Edmund? I would appreciate any information.

Unknown said...

I just started researching, but Captain Morgan Bryan had a son named Joseph H. Bryan. His daughter was Rebecca Ann (Bryan) Boone. In my heart, I think Rebecca was fully aware of her affluent family history. She was certainly very proud of her heritage because she gave two of her sons the middle name of Bryan. I am a descendant of her youngest son Jesse Bryan Boone who married Chole Van Bibber. They had a son named John Jarvis Boone Sr. who married Duraney Irene Tavin. Their son, John Jarvis Boone married Harriet Nancy Poston. Their son, James Earl Boone married Louisa M. Boone who gave birth to my great grandmother Bessie Elizabeth Boone. She married my great grandfather Benjamin Pyburn and had my grandmother Bertha Mae Pyburn. I called her Mamaw. She married my Papaw Daniel C. Edmonson. They had the following children: Charles, Thelma, James, Patricia, and Joyce. My mother is Thelma Edmonson. She married her first husband Bill Poole and had my two older sisters: Patricia and Deborah Poole. My mother's second marriage was to Donald Ford. I am her daughter Shayla Ford (now Shayla Sanchez) and I have two sons, Jason Rider and Andrew Sanchez. Well, that's what I have put together so far but I have a long way to go. I read that Sir Francis Bryan had an illegitimate son who was mentioned as carrying a dispatch to London in 1548 for the French admiral. Does anyone know anything about that?

Anonymous said...

Morgan Bryan is my 7th great grandfather and I have a DNA match

Anonymous said...

Sir Francis Bryan an Joan Fitzgerald married in 1548, Sir Francis was a direct descendant of Edward III

Unknown said...

Does anyone have any information or history on the Bryans of Jenkinstown, Co Kilkenny, Ireland who are possibly my descendants as Catherine Bryan born Co. Kilkenny married my great, great, great grandfather Thomas Tobin of Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. My email address is:

Anonymous said...

Hello! I’ve recently started doing ancestry stuff on Ancestry DNA. My dad doesn’t know much about his dads side of the family, and appears not much has been done by anyone else. I’m a Stevenson, and so is dads great grandfather,HUGH STEVENSON. Dad knew no information on him, except that he stumbled over an old news article from the 1920’s that he was found unconscious at Petonga beach after going fishing once, and later died in Hornsby hospital. I see a hint for a EMILY LAURA LUCINDA KINGSLEY (who probably married dads great grandfather). I then find out she died in Sydney (I live in QLD Australia 🇦🇺), I show a picture of the old house she lived in to dad and how he found it interesting. I’m looking at the name, and I’m thinking, “that looks fancy”. I then google in her name, and it tells me her mum and dad are. Next thing you know I’ve got a suggestion for her mother MALVINA BUTLER BRYAN. born- 2 Dec 1822 • Kilkenny West, Co Westmeath, Ireland Death 16 May 1904 • 14 Neutral St., North Sydney, St. Leonards, NSW, Australia . Then I google her name in, and ask who she is as she seemed kind of important. Then ancestry comes up with this person saying after all her research she couldn’t understand 2 things, and one of them was why the “Bryans Family” made the move to Van Demons Land AKA Tasmania. I click on the link that takes me back to ancestry and tho I can’t read those resources, I assume it was maybe her husband who got sentenced as a convict to the prison there. The second last source is titled “FRANCIS BRYAN: LORD JUSTICE OF IRELAND” and I’m like hey, that’s a big fancy name I’ve never heard of. I’m going to google that name. Boom. Followed my way here through a post on WikiTree to another “Thought To Be Descendent”. Just one thing I’m uncertain of here is that ancestry said that HUGH STEVENSON and EMILY LAURA LUCINDA KINGSLEY had 3 kids that had similar names to their parents. Dads grandad’s name is William, not Hugh. That’s his Uncles, So I question: Am I somehow related to this FRANCIS BRYAN? For emailing, please email me at I’m a beginner at this family history stuff and only started a few months ago, and I would really like to know if it’s possible that Me and my dad are somehow related to you guys! I’d really like to hear back from you! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

No one here is likely to be related to Sir Francis Bryan. He had no children with either of his wives and nothing is known about his illegitimate son.
There is no documentary evidence at all for any of his supposed children, which is very odd when you consider how prominent & wealthy they supposedly were.

As someone mentioned earlier, these are unsupported narratives (which were extremely popular in the 19th & early 20th century - an age when sham genealogists abounded, who never imagined a time when archives would be widely accessible & details could be checked.) Unfortunately, the internet has led to mass repetition of these narratives, so it gives the impression of corroboration from many quarters, but it is just plain old copying.
No one involved in this repetition is ‘lying’ or trying to deceive. If they’ve heard this story all their lives from someone they trust/admire, they’re bound to believe it & probably don’t feel the need to do independent research. But, when it comes to genealogy the first rule is question everything & find supporting evidence.
I would not waste your time pursuing Sir Francis Bryan (or if you do, attempt some research of reliable historical sources, where you will find he had no legitimate children. I doubt his second wife would even let him near her!)

Anonymous said...

So was the Book The Spear and The Spindle
Ancestors of Sir Francis Bryan by T A Fuller a load of rubbish then ? Because that book is extremely detailed and well researched .Linking Sir Francis Bryan to British Royalty and the Colonists of Virginia

Anonymous said...

Winifred Bryan was my grandmother's name before she married Alexander Dollery ..Through Ancestry I traced back to Sir Francis Bryan as my 12th Great Grandfather .His son went to Virginia USA