Birnor History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Birnor surname comes from the Norman given name Bernier, which is Germanic in origin, coming from "bern" meaning "bear," and "hari," or "army."

Early Origins of the Birnor family

The surname Birnor 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.

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. " [1]

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." [1]

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." [1]

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.' " [2]

Important Dates for the Birnor family

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

Birnor 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 Berner, Berners, Berniers, Burner, Burners, Burniers, Barners, Bearners and many more.

Early Notables of the Birnor family (pre 1700)

Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Birnor Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Birnor family

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 Birnor or a variant listed above: Gregory Berners, who arrived in Halifax, N.S. in 1749; Jane Berners, who settled in Virginia in 1775; and Robert Berner, who arrived in Texas in 1852..

Citations

  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
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