Burden History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England of 1066 added many new elements to the already vibrant culture. Among these were thousands of new names. The Burden name is derived 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 Burden family

The surname Burden 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 Burden family

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

Burden 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 Burdon, Burden, Bourden, Bourdon, Birden, Berden, Burdin, Burdin, Burdun, Burdon, Burdune, Burghdone, Burdoun and many more.

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

Burden Ranking

In the United States, the name Burden is the 2,327th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Burden family to Ireland

Some of the Burden 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 Burden migration to the United States +

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 Burden or a variant listed above:

Burden Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edw Burden, who landed in Virginia in 1634 [8]
  • Jon Burden, who landed in Virginia in 1634 [8]
  • George Burden, who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
  • George Burden, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1636 [8]
  • Edward Burden who settled in Virginia in 1637
Burden Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Tho Burden, who arrived in Virginia in 1704 [8]
  • Thomas Burden, who settled in Virginia in 1734
  • John Burden, who landed in America in 1740 [8]
  • Samuel Burden, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [8]
Burden Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Burden, aged 28, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [8]
  • Richard Burden, aged 28, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [8]
  • John and Richard Burden, who settled in New York State in 1803
  • Henry Burden, who landed in Albany, NY in 1819 [8]
  • Joseph W Burden, who arrived in New York, NY in 1842 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Burden migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Burden Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Benjamin Burden, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760
  • Jos Burden, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1760
  • Mr. Thomas Burden U.E. born in Massachusetts, USA who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1783 passenger on the Union Transport from New York [9]

Australia Burden migration to Australia +

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

Burden Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Stephen Burden, (b. 1823), aged 21, Cornish labourer travelling aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Port Phillip, New South Wales, Australia on 22nd August 1844 [10]
  • Miss Elizabeth Burden, (b. 1828), aged 16, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Port Phillip, New South Wales, Australia on 22nd August 1844 [10]
  • Mr. Stephen Burden, (b. 1823), aged 21, Cornish labourer departing from London on 17th April 1844 aboard the ship "Lord William Bentick" arriving in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia on 22nd August 1844 [11]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Burden, (b. 1828), aged 16, Cornish settler departing from London on 17th April 1844 aboard the ship "Lord William Bentick" arriving in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia on 22nd August 1844 [11]
  • Sarah Burden, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Stebonheath" in 1849 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Burden 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:

Burden Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Burden, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "William Watson" in 1859
  • Mr. John Burden, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "William Watson" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th February 1859 [13]
  • Enoch Burden, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "City of Auckland" in 1870

Contemporary Notables of the name Burden (post 1700) +

  • Gary Burden (1933-2018), American Grammy Award winning artist of album covers who has done designs for Neil Young, Mama Cass, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, The Eagles and more
  • Luther D. "Ticky" Burden (1953-2015), American NBA and ABA basketball player
  • Willie Burden (1951-2015), American professional Canadian football player with the Calgary Stampeders, inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, 2001
  • Christopher "Chris" Burden (1946-2015), American artist working in performance, sculpture, and installation art, Professor at University of California, Los Angeles (1978-)
  • Doug Burden (b. 1965), American gold, silver and two-time bronze medalist rower
  • Bob Burden (b. 1952), American comic book artist and writer
  • Amanda Jay Mortimer Burden (b. 1944), American director of the New York City Department of City Planning
  • James A. Burden, American Republican politician, Presidential Elector for New York, 1880, 1896; Presidential Elector for New York, 1880 [14]
  • Henry Burden, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for Texas State Senate 23rd District, 1992 [14]
  • George P. Burden, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1996 [14]
  • ... (Another 27 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Arthur Ernest Burden (1909-1939), British Petty Officer with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Arthur Howell Burden, English Assistant Purser from Chiswick Lane, London, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking and was recovered [16]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Ralph Leon Burden, American Radioman Third Class from Ohio, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [17]


  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1838_on.pdf
  11. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_victoria.pdf
  12. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STEBONHEATH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Stebonheath.htm
  13. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  14. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  15. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  16. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  17. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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