Bernas History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bernas is one of the proud Scottish names to come from the Strathclyde clans of the Scottish/English Borderlands. It is derived from the personal name Burnhouse, derived from the words burn, meaning "stream," and house, meaning a house.

Early Origins of the Bernas family

The surname Bernas was first found in Cumberland, 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.

Early History of the Bernas family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bernas research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1495, and 1560 are included under the topic Early Bernas History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bernas Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that rules have developed and the process of spelling according to sound has been abandoned. Scottish names from before that time tend to appear under many different spelling variations. Bernas has been spelled Burness, Burnes, Burnace, Burnice, Burnhouse, Burnshead, Burnish, Burnist, Bernis and many more.

Early Notables of the Bernas family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Bernas Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bernas family to Ireland

Some of the Bernas family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Bernas family

Unwelcome in their beloved homeland, many Scots sailed for the colonies of North America. There, they found land and freedom, and even the opportunity to make a new nation in the American War of Independence. These Scottish settlers played essential roles in the founding of the United States, and the shaping of contemporary North America. Among them: William Burnhouse settled in Virginia in 1623; Margaret Burness, who settled in East New Jersey in 1685; James Burness, who settled in America in 1815.


Contemporary Notables of the name Bernas (post 1700) +

  • Joaquin G. Bernas SJ (1932-2021), Filipino Jesuit priest, lawyer, college professor and writer, 28th President of the Ateneo de Manila University (1984-1993)
  • Richard Bernas (b. 1950), British-based conductor


The Bernas 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: Perseverantia vincit
Motto Translation: Perseverance conquers


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