Berke History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman names that came to Ireland in the 12th century. The surname Berke is derived from the Old English word "burh," which is derived from the Old German word "burg," the common Germanic word for a fortification. It seems likely that the first family to bear this surname would have lived in or near a prehistoric fort situated on a hill. In the Norman fashion, surnames created from place names or geographic locations were prefixed by "de," which means "from" in French.
Early Origins of the Berke family
The surname Berke was first found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where the family name is descended from the Norman noble William Fitzadelm de Burgo who went to Ireland in the Anglo- Norman invasion of Ireland and was the succeeded Strongbow as Chief Governor.
"Robert de Burgh, Earl of Moreton in Normandy, son of Harlowen de Burgh, by Arlotta, his wife, mother of William the Conqueror, participated with his half-brother in the triumph at Hastings, was created Earl of Cornwall, and received, as a further recompense, grants of seven hundred and ninety-three manors. His son, William Earl of Cornwall, who, rebelling against the Henry I., joined Robert of Normandy, and led the van at the battle of Tenchebray. He fell into the hands of his opponents and was sent prisoner to England, where he was treated with much cruelty, and detaining him in captivity for life. He left two sons: I. Adelm, from whom descended the Burghs, Earls of Ulster, the noble House of Clanricarde, and the various families of Burke, so widely scattered over the south west district of Ireland; and II. John, whose son, Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, was Justiciary of England, temp. Henry III., and one of the greatest subjects in England." 
Great stretches of land were given to this family in the year 1177. Richard Oge de Burc, son of William, became the "Lord Justice of Ireland" under King Henry II in 1177 and was regranted the lands of his father the following year. 
Richard Mor de Burc, the older son of William, was the ancestor of the family name Bourke or Burke. They formed several septs, the two most important having been the MacWilliam Uachtar sept of county Galway, and the MacWilliam Lochtar sept of county Mayo.
It should be noted that not all of the family were in Ireland as some were found in Knaresborough, in the West Riding of Yorkshire in ancient times. "At the time of the Domesday Survey it formed part of the royal demesnes, and was given by the Conqueror to Serlo de Burgh, Baron of Tonsburg, in Normandy, who had accompanied that monarch into England, and by whom its stately castle, now a ruin, was originally built, on the rocky heights north of the river Nidd." 
Another noted source confirms Knaresborough as a point of origin, but has a different Norman baron: " 'Burgh' must here stand for Serlo de Burgh, a powerful Northern baron in the time of the Conqueror, who built Knaresborough Castle, and appears to have taken his name from the manor of Burgh, in Yorkshire. " 
Early History of the Berke family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Berke research. Another 140 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1227, 1503, 1544, 1582, 1601, 1572, 1635, 1604, 1657, 1590, 1667, 1629, 1647, 1647, 1667, 1598, 1672, 1666, 1642 and 1722 are included under the topic Early Berke History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Berke Spelling Variations
Church officials and medieval scribes spelled names as they sounded; therefore, single person, could have his name spelt many different ways during their lifetime. While investigating the origins of the name Berke, many spelling variations were encountered, including: de Burgh, Burke, Bourke, Burk, Bourk, Gillick and many more.
Early Notables of the Berke family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the family up to this time was Theobald Bourke, 8th Mac William Iochtar and lord of Lower (North) Connacht, died 1503; Ulick Ceann Burke (died 1544), 12th Clanricarde and 1st Earl of Clanricarde; Richard Sassanach Burke, 2nd Earl of Clanricarde (died 1582); Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricarde, (died 1601), Irish peer; Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde (1572-1635), an Irish nobleman; Ulick Burke, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde (1604-1657), was an...
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Berke Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
In the United States, the name Berke is the 17,451st most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 
Berke migration to the United States +
Ireland's Great Potato Famine left the country's inhabitants in extreme poverty and starvation. Many families left their homeland for North America for the promise of work, freedom and land ownership. Although the Irish were not free of economic and racial discrimination in North America, they did contribute greatly to the rapid development of bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Eventually, they would be accepted in other areas such as commerce, education, and the arts. An examination of immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name Berke:
Berke Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
- Frans Berke, who landed in New York in 1709 
Berke Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Earnest Berke, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1837 
- Esther Berke, aged 18, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1879 
- Jacob Berke, aged 44, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1879 
- Johann Berke, aged 15, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1879 
- Maria Berke, aged 15, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1879 
- ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Contemporary Notables of the name Berke (post 1700) +
- Jill Berke, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Wisconsin, 2004 
- Berke M.M. Bates (1977-2017), American Trooper-Pilot who was killed when his Virginia State Police Bell 407 helicopter crashed during the Virginia Unite the Right rally on August 12th, 2017
Related Stories +
The Berke Motto +
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: Ung roy, ung foy, ung loy
Motto Translation: One king, one faith, one law.
- ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
- ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ 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
- ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
- ^ 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)
- ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html