Bourk History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman names that came to Ireland in the 12th century. The surname Bourk is derived from the Old English word "burh," which is derived from the Old German word "burg," the common Germanic word for a fortification. It seems likely that the first family to bear this surname would have lived in or near a prehistoric fort situated on a hill. In the Norman fashion, surnames created from place names or geographic locations were prefixed by "de," which means "from" in French.

Early Origins of the Bourk family

The surname Bourk was first found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where the family name is descended from the Norman noble William Fitzadelm de Burgo who went to Ireland in the Anglo- Norman invasion of Ireland and was the succeeded Strongbow as Chief Governor.

Great stretches of land were given to this family in the year 1177. Richard Oge de Burc, son of William, became the "Lord Justice of Ireland" under King Henry II in 1177 and was regranted the lands of his father the following year. [1]

Richard Mor de Burc, the older son of William, was the ancestor of the family name Bourke or Burke. They formed several septs, the two most important having been the MacWilliam Uachtar sept of county Galway, and the MacWilliam Lochtar sept of County Mayo.

It should be noted that not all of the family were in Ireland as some were found in Knaresborough, in the West Riding of Yorkshire in ancient times. "At the time of the Domesday Survey it formed part of the royal demesnes, and was given by the Conqueror to Serlo de Burgh, Baron of Tonsburg, in Normandy, who had accompanied that monarch into England, and by whom its stately castle, now a ruin, was originally built, on the rocky heights north of the river Nidd." [2]

Early History of the Bourk family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bourk research. Another 140 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1227, 1503, 1544, 1582, 1601, 1572, 1635, 1604, 1657, 1590, 1667, 1629, 1647, 1647, 1667, 1598, 1672, 1666, 1642 and 1722 are included under the topic Early Bourk History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bourk Spelling Variations

Medieval scribes and church officials spelt names simply the way they sounded, which explains the various name spelling variations of the name Bourk that were encountered when researching that surname. The many spelling variations included: de Burgh, Burke, Bourke, Burk, Bourk, Gillick and many more.

Early Notables of the Bourk family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was Theobald Bourke, 8th Mac William Iochtar and lord of Lower (North) Connacht, died 1503; Ulick Ceann Burke (died 1544), 12th Clanricarde and 1st Earl of Clanricarde; Richard Sassanach Burke, 2nd Earl of Clanricarde (died 1582); Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricarde, (died 1601), Irish peer; Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde (1572-1635), an Irish nobleman; Ulick Burke, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde (1604-1657), was an...
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bourk Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bourk migration to the United States +

During the middle of the 19th century, Irish families often experienced extreme poverty and racial discrimination in their own homeland under English rule. Record numbers died of disease and starvation and many others, deciding against such a fate, boarded ships bound for North America. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Unfortunately, many of those Irish that arrived in Canada or the United States still experienced economic and racial discrimination. Although often maligned, these Irish people were essential to the rapid development of these countries because they provided the cheap labor required for the many canals, roads, railways, and other projects required for strong national infrastructures. Eventually the Irish went on to make contributions in the less backbreaking and more intellectual arenas of commerce, education, and the arts. Research early immigration and passenger lists revealed many early immigrants bearing the name Bourk:

Bourk Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Bryan Bourk, aged 19, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [3]
Bourk Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • David Bourk, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [3]
  • Magdalene Bourk, who arrived in South Carolina in 1755-1756 [3]
  • Richard Bourk, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1775 [3]
Bourk Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Lucien Bourk, who landed in Louisiana in 1805-1809 [3]
  • William Bourk, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1823 [3]

Australia Bourk migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bourk Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Edward G Bourk, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Petrel" in 1851 [4]

New Zealand Bourk 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:

Bourk Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Bourk, aged 19, a farm labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1876

Contemporary Notables of the name Bourk (post 1700) +

  • Gil P. Bourk, American Democrat politician, Member of Missouri State House of Representatives from Jackson County 4th District, 1931-36 [5]


The Bourk Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ung roy, ung foy, ung loy
Motto Translation: One king, one faith, one law.


  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PETREL 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Petrel.htm
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 29) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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