Show ContentsBerner History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Berner surname comes from the occupational name Bernier, "one who had charge of fresh relays of dogs in hunting, a huntsman." [1] [2] [3]

Alternatively the name could have been derived from "Bernieres, near Falaise. Hugh de Bernieres appears as a Domesday tenant in the counties of Essex, Cambridge, and Middlesex. In Essex he held Bernston (Bernerstown), Roding Berners, &c, under Geoffrey de Mandeville; and in Cambridgeshire Eversdon, which is said to have been his chief seat, as it certainly was that of his posterity. William de Berners, in 1093, witnesses Robert Fitz Hugh's charter to Chester Abbey; and two of the name are entered in the Liber Niger: Ralph de Bernieres, holding six knight's fees; and Richard de Bernieres, seven. Robert de Berners, 6 Richard I." [4] [5]

Early Origins of the Berner family

The surname Berner was first found in Surrey where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Therfield. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands in Essex at Roding Berniers (Roothing Berners) and Bernston who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. [6]

They are believed to be descended from Hugh de Berniers in Normandy near Falaise. They also held in Cambridge at Eversdon, his main domain. Rooting Berners "derives its distinguishing affix from Hugh de Berners, to whom the manor at one time belonged. " [7]

The same gentleman held estates in Barnston, again in Essex. "The manor was held by Hugh de Berners and his descendants for many generations, and from them obtained its name Bernerstown, now corrupted into Bernston or Barnston." [7]

The alter tomb in West Horsley, Surrey has an effigy of "one of the Berners, a family who resided there about the time of Richard II." [7]

Dame Juliana Berners, Bernes or Barnes (b. 1388?), was an early English writer on hawking, hunting, and heraldry. "The historic and the legendary Dame Juliana Berners are very different persons. 'What is really known of the Dame is almost nothing, and may be summed up in the following few words. She probably lived at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and she possibly compiled from existing, MSS. some rhymes on hunting.' " [8]

Another noted source weighs in on this controversy: "The identity of Dame Julyans Berners, authoress of the 'Treatyse on Fysshynge with an Angle,' has never been established. Some have called her the daughter of the Sir James who was executed in 1388; but the probable date of her book is about a century later; and from her title of Dame, she must have been a wife rather than a daughter. In these popularity-hunting days, it is refreshing to note how solicitous she is that her treatise should not be indiscriminately read, and fall into unworthy hands, being intended only for true sportsmen. Her style is charmingly simple and natural, and the wholesome advice she gives her readers proves her to have been a worthy and God-fearing woman. " [4]

Early History of the Berner family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Berner research. Another 157 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1265, 1455, 1467, 1472, 1474, 1495, 1504, 1510, 1516, 1518, 1529, 1533 and 1600 are included under the topic Early Berner History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Berner Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Berner, Berners, Berniers, Burner, Burners, Burniers, Barners, Bearners and many more.

Early Notables of the Berner family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • John Bourchier de Berners, 2nd Baron Berners (1467-1533), an English diplomat and man of letters. He was a member of Parliament from 1495 to 1529, Chancellor of the exchequer (1516) and ambassador to...

Berner Ranking

In the United States, the name Berner is the 8,221st most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [9]

United States Berner migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Berner or a variant listed above:

Berner Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mattys Berner, accompanied by his wife and two children, who arrived in New York State in 1709
  • Johan Berner, who landed in New York in 1709 [10]
  • Mattys Berner, who arrived in New York in 1709 [10]
  • Georg Ludwig Berner, who landed in New York, NY in 1710 [10]
  • Andreas Berner, who landed in America in 1748 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Berner Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Marg Berner, age 37, who settled in New York City in 1832
  • Joseph Berner, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1839 [10]
  • Johannes Berner, aged 8, who arrived in New York, NY in 1848 [10]
  • Maria Berner, aged 19, who arrived in New York, NY in 1848 [10]
  • Salome Berner, aged 17, who landed in New York, NY in 1848 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Berner migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Berner Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Carl Berner who was listed as having arrived in Quebec in 1850
  • Carl Berner, who arrived in Quebec in 1850

New Zealand Berner migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Berner Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Godfried Berner, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Beauty" in 1863
  • Elisabeth Berner, aged 21, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Terpsichore" in 1876

Contemporary Notables of the name Berner (post 1700) +

  • Sara Berner (1912-1969), born Lillian Ann Herdan, an American actress, a performer in vaudeville before becoming a voice actress for radio and animated shorts, best known as telephone operator Mabel Flapsaddle on The Jack Benny Program
  • Robert Arbuckle Berner (1935-2015), American scientist known for his contributions to the modeling of the carbon cycle
  • Lewis Berner (b. 1915), American biologist
  • T Roland Berner (b. 1909), American corporate executive and lawyer
  • Vicki Berner (1945-2017), Canadian professional tennis player who won the doubles event at the Canadian Open five times, inducted into the Tennis Canada Hall of Fame
  • Peter Berner (b. 1963), Australian stand-up comedian, television and radio presenter, cartoonist and painter
  • Geoff Berner (b. 1971), Canadian singer, songwriter, and musician from Vancouver
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Berner (1780-1827), German organist, composer, teacher and writer on music theory
  • Carl Ludvig Berner (1913-2003), Danish rower who competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin
  • Carl Christian Berner (1841-1918), Norwegian politician, Minister of Education and Church Affairs (1892–1893)
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Robert V Berner (b. 1898), Irish Leading Writer serving for the Royal Navy from Tullyvery, County Down, Ireland, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [11]

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  4. 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
  5. Liber Niger Scutarii ("Black Book of the Exchequer"), containing reports by county on feudal holdings in England in 1166 (reign of Henry II)
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  7. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  8. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  9. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  10. 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)
  11. H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook