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

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

The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman names that came to Ireland in the 12th century. The surname Burke is derived from the Old English word "burh," which is derived from the Old German word "burg," the common Germanic word for a fortification. It seems likely that the first family to bear this surname would have lived in or near a prehistoric fort situated on a hill. In the Norman fashion, surnames created from place names or geographic locations were prefixed by "de," which means "from" in French.


Medieval scribes and church officials spelled the names as they sounded, so a name was often spelled many different ways during the lifetime of a single person. The investigation of the origin of the name Burke revealed many spelling variations including de Burgh, Burke, Bourke, Burk, Bourk, Gillick and many more.

First found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where the family name is descended from the Norman noble William Fitzadelm de Burgo who went to Ireland in the Anglo- Norman invasion of Ireland and was the succeeded Strongbow as Chief Governor. Great stretches of land were given to this family in the year 1177. Richard Oge de Burc, son of William, became the "Lord Justice of Ireland" under King Henry II in 1177 and was regranted the lands of his father the following year. [1] Richard Mor de Burc, the older son of William, was the ancestor of the family name Bourke or Burke. They formed several septs, the two most important having been the MacWilliam Uachtar sept of county Galway, and the MacWilliam Lochtar sept of county Mayo.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burke research. Another 279 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1227, 1503, 1544, 1582, 1601, 1572, 1635, 1604, 1657, 1590, 1667, 1629, 1647, 1647, 1667, 1598, 1672, 1666, 1642 and 1722 are included under the topic Early Burke History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 271 words(19 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Burke Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Ireland experienced a dramatic decrease in its population during the 19th century. This was in a great measure, a response to England's imperialistic policies. Hunger and disease took the lives of many Irish people and many more chose to leave their homeland to escape the horrific conditions. North America with its promise of work, freedom, and land was an extremely popular destination for Irish families. For those families that survived the journey, all three of these things were often attained through much hard work and perseverance. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Burke:

Burke Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • H Burke, who arrived in Virginia in 1647
  • Robt Burke, who landed in Maryland in 1649
  • Robt, Burke Jr., who arrived in Maryland in 1649
  • Stephen Burke, who landed in Maryland in 1649
  • Jane Burke, who landed in Maryland in 1666

Burke Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Kath Burke, who landed in Virginia in 1705
  • Tho Burke, who landed in Virginia in 1706
  • Richd Burke, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • Levi Burke, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1772

Burke Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Joh Burke, aged 33, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Goody Burke, aged 30, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • Martin Burke, who landed in America in 1810
  • Francis R Burke, aged 36, arrived in Georgia in 1812
  • Edwd Burke, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816

Burke Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • W E Burke, who landed in Mississippi in 1906


  • Edward "Ed" Burke (1909-1988), American jazz musician
  • Admiral Arleigh Albert Burke (1901-1996), American Chief of Naval Operations during the Eisenhower administration and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Thomas Kerry Burke (b. 1942), Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives from 1987 to 1990
  • Kenneth Duval Burke (1897-1993), American critic, philosopher and translator
  • Martha Jane Burke (1852-1903), better known as "Calamity Jane," the American frontierswoman, and professional scout
  • First Lieutenant Frank Burke (1918-1988), American Army officer and Medal of Honor recipient
  • James E. Burke (1925-2012), American businessman, CEO of Johnson & Johnson from 1976 to 1989, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Mary "Billie" Burke (1884-1970), American actress primarily known as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the musical film The Wizard of Oz
  • Thomas Burke (1875-1929), American two time Olympic gold medalist for Athletics in the 1896 games
  • David W. Burke (1936-2014), American television news executive, first chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, President of CBS News (1988-1990)



  • Burk(e) Family of Southwest Virginia and the Valley by John A. Kelly.
  • A Family Tree by James Robert Harrington.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ung roy, ung foy, ung loy
Motto Translation: One king, one faith, one law.



  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)

Other References

  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. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  4. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  5. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  6. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  8. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  10. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  11. ...

The Burke Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Burke 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 8 August 2014 at 20:12.

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