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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The name Barnhill is rooted in the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It was a name for someone who was a person with brown hair or a dark complexion. The surname Barnhill is derived from the Old English word burnel. This word comes from the Old French word brunel, which is a diminutive of the Old French word brun. Normally a nickname, Barnhill was also used as a personal name.


The surname Barnhill was first found in Shropshire where they were a family of great antiquity. They held a family seat at Acton Burnell in the county of Salop where they were found as early as 1087 according to Dugdale. They also acquired Holgate in the same shire and one of the first on record was Lesire le Burnell, whose son Robert Burnell (1239-1292) was Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1275 and Lord Chancellor of England from 1274-1292. Another branch of the family was found in the parish of Sibthorpe in Nottinghamshire. "This place was anciently of some importance, and was the residence of the Burnell family, of whose spacious mansion, however, no remains now exist." [1] The parish of Acton-Burnell is of great importance to the family too. "This place, which is of considerable antiquity, is on a branch of the Roman Watling-street. It takes the adjunct to its name from the family of Burnell, of whom Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Lord High Chancellor in the reign of Edward I., had a castle in the parish, of which there are still some remains. Nicholas Burnell, a distinguished warrior in the reign of Edward III., was born and buried here." [1]

Barnhill has been spelled many different ways, including Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Burnell, Burnhill, Byrnell and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Barnhill research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 157 and 1571 are included under the topic Early Barnhill History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the Barnhill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 55 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Barnhills to arrive on North American shores:

Barnhill Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Robert Barnhill, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1750

Barnhill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Wm Barnhill, who landed in Texas in 1835
  • Rebecca Barnhill, aged 21, who arrived in America from Tyrone, in 1892
  • Sarah Barnhill, aged 50, who arrived in America from County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1892
  • Andrew Barnhill, aged 27, who arrived in America from Glasgow, in 1893
  • J F Barnhill, aged 31, who arrived in America, in 1896

Barnhill Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Viola G. Barnhill, aged 34, who arrived in America from London, in 1904
  • John B. Barnhill, aged 39, who arrived in America from London, in 1904
  • William O. Barnhill, aged 26, who arrived in America, in 1914
  • Josephine Mary Barnhill, aged 24, who arrived in Washington, DC, in 1915
  • John F. Barnhill, aged 33, who arrived in New York, in 1919

Barnhill Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • Mary E. Barnhill, aged 32, who emigrated to Saint John N. B., Canada, in 1919
  • Jacob L. Barnhill, aged 62, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1923


  • William A. Barnhill (1889-1987), American photographer
  • John Henry "Barnie" Barnhill (1903-1973), American football player and coach
  • Norton Barnhill (b. 1953), retired American basketball player
  • John Anthony "Rabbit" Barnhill (b. 1938), American former professional basketball player
  • Maurice Victor Barnhill (1887-1963), American associate justice and chief justice (1954-56) of the North Carolina Supreme Court
  • Joe Barnhill (b. 1965), American country music singer-songwriter
  • Maurice Victor Barnhill (b. 1887), American Democrat politician, Nash County Prosecuting Attorney, 1914-21; Member of North Carolina State House of Representatives from Nash County, 1921-23
  • Helen Barnhill, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Wisconsin, 1988; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Wisconsin 5th District, 1988
  • John Eccles Nixon Barnhill (d. 1971), Ulster Unionist Party member of the Senate of Northern Ireland
  • David Barnhill, Australian former rugby league footballer


  • Crowe Family (including Barnhill line) History 1700-1972 .

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: Caritas fructum habet
Motto Translation: Charity bears fruit.


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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  4. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. 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).
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. 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).
  11. ...

The Barnhill Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Barnhill 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 March 2016 at 14:07.

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