Birden History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Birden is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The name Birden came 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 Birden family

The surname Birden 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 Birden family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Birden 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 Birden History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Birden Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries. For that reason, spelling variations are common among many Anglo-Norman names. The shape of the English language was frequently changed with the introduction of elements of Norman French, Latin, and other European languages; even the spelling of literate people's names were subsequently modified. Birden has been recorded under many different variations, including Burdon, Burden, Bourden, Bourdon, Birden, Berden, Burdin, Burdin, Burdun, Burdon, Burdune, Burghdone, Burdoun and many more.

Early Notables of the Birden 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 Birden Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Birden family to Ireland

Some of the Birden 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 Birden migration to the United States +

To escape the uncertainty of the political and religious uncertainty found in England, many English families boarded ships at great expense to sail for the colonies held by Britain. The passages were expensive, though, and the boats were unsafe, overcrowded, and ridden with disease. Those who were hardy and lucky enough to make the passage intact were rewarded with land, opportunity, and social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families went on to be important contributors to the young nations of Canada and the United States where they settled. Birdens were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America:

Birden Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mr. John Birden, (Borden), (b. 1607), aged 28, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Elizabeth and Anne" arriving in Massachusetts Bay (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire) in 1635 [7]
  • Mrs. Joan Birden, (b. 1612), aged 23, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Elizabeth and Anne" arriving in Massachusetts Bay (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire) in 1635 [7]
Birden Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Birden, aged 19, who landed in America from Liverpool, England in 1892
  • V. Birden, aged 38, who settled in America from Lpool, in 1892
Birden Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Josef Birden, aged 18, who immigrated to the United States from Kararim, in 1905

Contemporary Notables of the name Birden (post 1700) +

  • LaJourdain J. "J.J." Birden Sr. (b. 1965), retired American NFL football player


  1. ^ Lower, 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. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 24th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)


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