Birr History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Birr is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was name for a determined person. The surname Birr is derived from the Old English word burre, which first appeared c. 1330 and has taken the spellings of bur and burr in modern English. Shakespeare used the word to describe a person who "clings like a burr" and is "difficult to shake off," but this sense of the word is probably much older.

Early Origins of the Birr family

The surname Birr was first found in Lincolnshire but we must look to West Bergholt in Essex for the earliest recording of the name. "A chantry was founded here in 1331, by J. De Bures, for a priest to officiate at the altar of the Virgin Mary." [1]

"The Bowers of Iwerne House, Dorset, claim descent from Michael de Bures, a contemporary of the Conquerors, whose son Walter gave its present name of Bures to a small manor he possessed near Calne in Wiltshire. Nicholas de Boure, 2 Richard II., was seated at Boure's Place, near Deverell, holding part of his estate in capite; and Boure's Field, in the same county, belonged to his brother William." [2]

"Sir Robert de Bures, Lord of Chartley, Stafford, served as Knight of the shire in 1313. Sir John de Bures of Somersetshire, several times mentioned at the same period in the Parliamentary Rolls, who likewise held lands in Berkshire and Gloucestershire." [2]

Further north in Scotland, the name is also an ancient one. "Burr is an old name in the district of Tarves, Aberdeenshire, and is still pretty general there. Andrew de Burr of Mundole and Culbyn had a remission in 1337, and Andrea Burr was clerk of liberation in 1342. Walter Bur or Burre had a charter of an annual rent in the lands of Tyrie and Sefield in the constabulary of Kinghorne from David II. Robert Bure was procurator in Glasgow in 1433, and in 1440-1442 a Robert Burr or Bur is mentioned as vicar of Peebles." [3]

Early History of the Birr family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Birr research. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1520, 1340, 1397 and 1343 are included under the topic Early Birr History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Birr Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Birr have been found, including Burr, Bur, Burre and others.

Early Notables of the Birr family (pre 1700)

Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Birr Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Birr migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become powerful new nations. Among early immigrants of the Birr surname to cross the Atlantic and come to North America were:

Birr Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Julius Birr, aged 27, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1893 [4]

Canada Birr migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Birr Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Heinrich Birr, aged 52, who landed in Quebec in 1868


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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. ^ 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)
  4. ^ 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)


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