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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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.


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.


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.


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


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 United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Burnham, who came to Barbados in 1635
  • William Burnham, who arrived at St. Christopher in 1635
  • John Burnham, who landed in Massachusetts in 1635
  • Robert Burnham, who landed in Massachusetts in 1635
  • Tho Burnham, aged 18, landed in Barbados in 1635

Burnham Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • John Burnham, who settled in Potomac Maryland in 1731

Burnham Settlers in 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

Burnham Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Hiram Burnham, who arrived in Canada in 1828

Burnham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Charles Burnham, aged 30, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avalanche" in 1875
  • Mary Burnham, aged 31, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avalanche" in 1875
  • Hannah Burnham, aged 13, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avalanche" in 1875
  • Wlater Burnham, aged 8, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avalanche" in 1875
  • Charlotte Burnham, aged 5, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avalanche" in 1875


  • Zacheus Burnham (1777-1857), American-born, Canadian farmer, judge and politician, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada for Northumberland and Durham (1816-1820)
  • Sherburne Wesley Burnham (1838-1921), American astronomer
  • George Walter "Watch" Burnham (1860-1902), American umpire and manager in Major League Baseball
  • Captain Russell Adam Burnham (b. 1979), U.S. Army Physician Assistant, the 2003 U.S. Army Soldier of the Year, 2007 U.S. Army Medical Corps NCO of the Year and an Eagle Scout
  • Lt. Howard Mather Burnham (1842-1863), American officer known for having fought and died at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia, during the American Civil War
  • George Burnham (1868-1939), American banker and Republican politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California (1933-1937)
  • Henry Eben Burnham (1844-1917), American politician, United States Senator from New Hampshire (1909-1913)
  • Frederick K. Burnham, American competitive sailor, winner of the APBA Challenge Cup with his boat Dixie III in 1910 and winner of the Harmsworth Cup in 1910 and 1911 with his boats Dixie III and Dixie IV
  • Rev Edwin Otway Burnham (1824-1873), American Congregational minister and missionary
  • Clark Burnham (1802-1871), American politician, Member of the New York State Senate (1844-1847)



  • Burnam (also the Burnham) Family by Joan Venema.
  • Burnham Family Lineage Charts by Walter Jefferson Burnham.

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  1. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  3. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  6. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  7. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  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 22 November 2015 at 14:37.

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