Bearn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The chronicles of the Bearn family show that the name was first used in the Scottish/English Borderlands by the Strathclyde- Britons. It was a name for a person who lived in the county of Cumberland. On the onset, it is best first to establish that the family name Burns is in fact a Clan rather than a Sept of the Campbell Clan. A Roll of the Clans and Chiefs in 1597 shows the Burns Clan as having territories in the eastern Border marches of Scotland in East Teviotdale.

They were described as an unruly Clan. However, to relate the origins of this great Clan, we must go back to the year 1329, when their territories were located in the parish of Glenbervie. They had moved into these lands during the reign of King Edward I of England, from Burneshead, Cumberland, sometime around 1296.

Little is known about their previous history, but it is thought that they derived from a race called the Boernicians, a race of early Scots that ruled the north East coast of England as far north as Edinburgh. By 1375, the Clan had extended its territories to include Burnhouse of Kair, Burnside of Monboddo, Bralinmuir and Bon Jordan in Inchbreck, and Bernys in the barony of Renfrew.

"But for the name of the Scottish poet, genealogists north of the Tweed have a different origin - His forefathers are said to have come from Taynuilt or Burnhouse there, and emigrated to Forfarshire, where they - of course they were Campbells - were designated by the name Campbells of Burnhouse, and latterly Burness or simply Burns." [1]

Further to the south in England, there is another possible origin of the name: "this surname is derived from a geographical locality. 'at the burn,' i.e. stream; Middle English burne or bourne. More especially parishes in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, and Hampshire." [2]

Early Origins of the Bearn family

The surname Bearn was first found in Cumberland, where the original name was Burness. Even Robert Burns and his brother both agreed to shorten their name to Burns due to the difficulty in pronunciation by the Gaelic tongue. Later, the name was also spelled Bourne, Burn and even Bernes.

The famed Robert "Rabbie" Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet and lyricist is best known as the national poet of Scotland, and author of "Auld Lang Syne." He was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland and was eldest of the seven children of William Burnes (1721-1784), a self-educated tenant farmer.

Early History of the Bearn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bearn research. Another 172 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1603, 1851, 1877, 1759, 1796, 1741 and are included under the topic Early Bearn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bearn Spelling Variations

The origin of rules governing the spelling of names and even words is a very recent innovation. Before that, words and names were spelled according to sound, and, therefore, often appeared under several different spelling variations in a single document. Bearn has been spelled Burns, Burnes, Burness and others.

Early Notables of the Bearn family (pre 1700)

Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bearn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bearn family to Ireland

Some of the Bearn family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 85 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Bearn family

The persecution faced in their homeland left many Scots with little to do but sail for the colonies of North America. There they found land, freedom, opportunity, and nations in the making. They fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence, or traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In both cases, they made enormous contributions to the formation of those great nations. Among them: Archibald Burns who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1850; Bernard, Catherine, Charles, Daniel, Edward, George, Henry, James, John, Joseph, all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.


Contemporary Notables of the name Bearn (post 1700) +

  • Count Pierre Jean Odon René de Galard de Béarn, the administrator of Gogefit, Paris


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)


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