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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Burnham family come from? What is the English Burnham family crest and coat of arms? When did the Burnham family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Burnham family history?

The ancient history of the Burnham name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided in any of the various places called Burnham in Buckinghamshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, or Suffolk. These place names derive from the Old English words burna or stream, and ham, or homestead.

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Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Burnham include Burnham, Burnam and others.

First found in Herefordshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burnham research. Another 97 words(7 lines of text) covering the years 1619 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Burnham History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 33 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Burnham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Burnham or a variant listed above:

Burnham Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Thomas Burnham, who came to Barbados in 1635
  • William Burnham, who arrived at St. Christopher in 1635
  • Wm Burnham, aged 21, landed in St Christopher in 1635
  • John Burnham, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1638
  • Rowland Burnham, who arrived in Virginia in 1639


Burnham Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • John Burnham, who settled in Potomac Maryland in 1731

Burnham Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • William Burnham, who arrived in New Orleans in 1823
  • Stephen Burnham, who arrived in Texas in 1835
  • L Burnham, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850

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  • James Burnham (1905-1987), American political theorist and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Robert Burnham Jr. (1931-1993), American astronomer, best for his three-volume "Burnham's Celestial Handbook"
  • Frederick Russell Burnham DSO (1861-1947), American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa
  • David Hudson Burnham (1846-1912), American architect
  • Viscount Harry Lawson Webster Lawson Burnham (1862-1933), English statesman
  • Forbes Burnham (1923-1985), Past Prime Minister of Guyana


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  • Burnam (also the Burnham) Family by Joan Venema.
  • Burnham Family Lineage Charts by Walter Jefferson Burnham.
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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  5. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  6. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  7. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Burnham Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Burnham Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 21 November 2013 at 14:22.

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