Berdan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought much change, including many immigrants with new names. Among these were the ancestors of the Berdan family, whose name comes from the Norman personal name Burdo, which is thought to be of Germanic origin.

Alternatively, the name was derived from a "bourdon, a palmer's staff, which, with his scrip, always received a solemn benediction from the priest before he set out on his journey." [1]

"This name, no doubt given or assumed in memory of some pilgrimage, was common both in Normandy and England. During the latter half of the twelfth century it occurs several times in the Exchequer Rolls of the Duchy; and William Burdon, according to Duchesne, held of the Honour of Grentemesnil. Four Bourdons-Bourdon de Gramont du Lys, Bourdon du Lys, Bourdon du Quesnay, and Bourdon de Pommeret-were present in the Assembly of the Norman nobles in 1789." [2]

In the co. Durham we find the family seated very soon after the Conquest. Roger Burdon witnesses a deed in Bishop Flambard's time (1099-1133); and Elfer and Amfrid de Birdan appear in the Domesday of the North, the "Bolden Buke" compiled between 1153 and 1194. The name is retained by two villages in the Parish of Bishop-Wearmouth, East and West Burdon (otherwise Old Burdon and Towne Burdon), and was frequent in the county. In 1320 Hugh Burdon of Ivesley-Burdon left Agnes his daughter and heir. [2]

The family is found in many different parts of the country. Arnulph Burdon held a mansion in Winchester, 1148 (Winton Domesday): and Robert Burdon was Lord of Kingsteignton, Devon, temp. Richard I. (Pole's Devon). Burdon, near High Hampton, retains the name in the county. Robert Burdon was of Yorkshire, in 1255 (Roberts, Excerpta): and at about the same date, or a little later, Roger Burdon of Burdon's Hall, Boscomb, occurs in Wiltshire. [2]

Early Origins of the Berdan family

The surname Berdan was first found in Essex where they were granted lands by King William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings. Baron Burden appears in the Role of Battel Abbey and the Domesday Book as holding lands held by the Count of Mortain and leased to Richard de Surdeval.

Burdon and Great Burdon are townships in Durham. "The ancient family of Burdon, of knightly dignity, derived their name from this place; which also gave name to a local family, who, however, never passed the rank of yeomanry." [3]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included a variety of early spellings for the family: Nicholas de Burdon, Wiltshire; Lucya de Burdune, Devon; and Thomas Burdon, Yorkshire. [4]

Other early rolls list Ralph Burdun in Norfolf (1128-1129) and Ilger Burdun in the Pipe Rolls for Yorkshire in 1166. Arnulf Burdin was found in Winton, Hampshire in 1115 and Bruni Burdin was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Berkshire in 1180. Nicholas Burbein or Burdon was found in Warwickshire in 1242. [5]

Up in Scotland, the name was "probably from the place now called Burdon in the county of Durham, where a family of the name are found shortly after the Norman Conquest. Thomas Burdun witnessed a charter by Ebrardus de Penkathleht to the church of St. Cuthbert of Durham in the reign of William the Lion. William de Bourdon witnessed a charter of Alexander 11 to Hugh de Abernethy, c. 1245. de Burdon witnessed a charter of Sir Ralph Noble of half the lands of Kenpunt to David Graham. Sir William Burdone swore fealty in 1291, and in 1296 Rogier de Burghdone of Blakeder in Berwickshire and Wautier de Burghdone of Roxburghshire rendered homage. The seal of the latter bears the legend S' Walteri de Bvrdvn." [6]

Early History of the Berdan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Berdan research. Another 341 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1115, 1128, 1166, 1180, 1217, 1467, 1497, 1758, 1273, 1273, 1597, 1797, 1808, 1337, 1357, 1574, 1817, 1764, 1818, 1782, 1786, 1788, 1798, 1818 and 1806 are included under the topic Early Berdan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Berdan Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Burdon, Burden, Bourden, Bourdon, Birden, Berden, Burdin, Burdin, Burdun, Burdon, Burdune, Burghdone, Burdoun and many more.

Early Notables of the Berdan family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Burdon (1764-1818), English miscellaneous writer, born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and was educated at the free grammar school there, proceeded to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1782, and graduated B.A. 1786, and M.A. 1788, when he was elected a fellow of his college. He resigned his fellowship eight years later, on declining to take holy orders. He...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Berdan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Berdan family to Ireland

Some of the Berdan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 69 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Berdan migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Berdan or a variant listed above:

Berdan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jan Berdan, who arrived in New York in 1682 [7]

Canada Berdan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Berdan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Sgt. Albert Berdan U.E. (b. 1753) born in Bergen County, New Jersey, USA from Vermont, USA who settled in Woodhouse township, Norfolk County, Upper Canada, Ontario c. 1783 enlisted in 1777 he served in the New Jersey Volunteers married to Susannah Secord in 1783 they had 11 children, he died in 1818 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Berdan (post 1700) +

  • John Berdan (1798-1841), American politician, the first mayor of Toledo, Ohio
  • Brian Berdan, American film editor
  • Hiram Berdan (1824-1893), American marksman, engineer, military officer and inventor of the Berdan rifle and the Berdan centerfire primer


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X


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