E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
properly speaking, is one of the patres or fathers of Rome. These patres were the senators, and their descendants were the patricians. As they held for many years all the honours of the state, the word came to signify the magnates or nobility of a nation.
N.B. In Rome the patrician class was twice augmented: first by Tatius, after the Sabine war, who added a whole century; and again by Tarquinius Priscus, who added another. The Sabine century went by the name of patricians of the senior races (majorum gentium), and the Tarquinian patricians were termed of the junior creation (minorum gentium).