Birnor History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Birnor 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 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. [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 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, 1518, 1474, 1455 and 1472 are included under the topic Early Birnor History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Birnor Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Berner, Berners, Berniers, Burner, Burners, Burniers, Barners, Bearners and many more.

Early Notables of the Birnor family (pre 1700)

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 Madrid (1518). He was son of John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners, KG (died 1474) who was an English peer and the fourth son of William Bourchier, 1st Count of Eu. "Margery, daughter and heir of Richard Berners, of...
Another 78 words (6 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

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people 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..



  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


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