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

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

The name Burwell is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in Burwell, a place-name found in a number of English counties including Northampton, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire. Thus, an original bearer of the surname Burwell hailed from any of the above places. The place-name Burwell is derived from the Old English byrig-wiellw which means town well or fort by a spring.


It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Burwell are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. The variations of the name Burwell include: Burwell, Burwelle and others.

First found in Cambridgeshire at Burwell, a village and civil parish located there since 1060 when records there have the village name as Burcwell. Remains of a 12th century fort's dry moat can still be seen there today. The Domesday Book [1] of 1086 lists the spellings Burewelle, Burwella and Burwelle. At that time it was part of the Stapole hundred, held by the Abbot of Ramsey. The same reference lists Buruelle which has been modernized as Burwell in Lincolnshire. [2] Burwell Castle was an unfinished medieval motte and bailey castle in Burwell, Cambridgeshire. It was built in 1143 by Stephen I of England, on the site of a former Roman villa. Thomas Lethbridge excavated the site in 1935 and since 1983 the site is held by the Burwell Parish Council.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burwell research. Another 191 words(14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Burwell History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Burwell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Burwell or a variant listed above:

Burwell Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Lewis Burwell, who landed in Virginia in 1640
  • Wm Burwell, who landed in Virginia in 1648
  • George and Frances Burwell who settled in Virginia in 1648 with their children, Elizabeth, Francis, Lewis, Robert, William
  • Elizabeth Burwell, who landed in Virginia in 1648
  • Fra Burwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1648

Burwell Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Cyprian Burwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1702
  • Winifred Burwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1702

Burwell Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Dorothy Burwell, aged 50, arrived with George her husband in New York in 1820 with seven children


  • William Armisted Burwell (1780-1821), American congressman and presidential secretary from Virginia
  • William Edwin "Bill" Burwell (1895-1973), American Major League Baseball player
  • Carter Benedict Burwell (b. 1955), American film soundtrack artist
  • Clifford R. "Cliff" Burwell (1898-1977), American pianist and songwriter
  • Brigadier-General Harvey S. Burwell (1890-1955), American Commanding General of Amarillo Army Air Base, Texas (1943-1944)
  • Mahlon Burwell (1783-1846), American-born, Canadian surveyor and politician in Upper Canada, eponym of Port Burwell, Ontario
  • Paul Dean Burwell (1949-2007), British free improvisation and experimental art percussionist
  • Paul Burwell, Canadian nature and wildlife photographer
  • Herbert M. Burwell, Canadian meteorological observer from London, Ontario, eponym of Port Burwell, Nunavit


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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)

Other References

  1. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  4. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  5. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  8. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  9. 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.
  10. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  11. ...

The Burwell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Burwell 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 4 April 2014 at 16:43.

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