Of Irish origin: perhaps from an Old Celtic word meaning ‘high’ or ‘noble’. The name has been perennially popular in Ireland, in particular on account of the fame of Brian Boru (Gaelic Brian Bóroimhe) (c. 940–1014), a warrior who was credited with driving the Vikings from Ireland and who eventually became high king of Ireland. In the Middle Ages it was relatively common in East Anglia, where it was introduced by Breton settlers, and in northern England, where it was introduced by Scandinavians from Ireland. It was quite popular in Yorkshire in the early 16th century, largely because it had long been a family name among the Stapletons, who had Irish connections. They first used it after Sir Gilbert Stapleton married Agnes, the daughter of the great northern baron Sir Brian fitzAlan. In Gaelic Scotland it was at first borne exclusively by members of certain professional families of Irish origin.