Show ContentsBurnes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Among the clans of the Scottish/English Borderlands, the Strathclyde Britons were the first to use the name Burnes. It is derived from the personal name Burnhouse, derived from the words burn, meaning "stream," and house, meaning a house.

Early Origins of the Burnes family

The surname Burnes was first found in Cumberland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Burnes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burnes research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1495 and 1560 are included under the topic Early Burnes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Burnes Spelling Variations

The origin of rules governing the spelling of names and even words is a very recent innovation. Before that, words and names were spelled according to sound, and, therefore, often appeared under several different spelling variations in a single document. Burnes has been spelled Burness, Burnes, Burnace, Burnice, Burnhouse, Burnshead, Burnish, Burnist, Bernis and many more.

Early Notables of the Burnes family

Notable amongst the family at this time was

  • the Burness of Kair

Burnes Ranking

In the United States, the name Burnes is the 12,466th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]

Ireland Migration of the Burnes family to Ireland

Some of the Burnes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Burnes migration to the United States +

The persecution faced in their homeland left many Scots with little to do but sail for the colonies of North America. There they found land, freedom, opportunity, and nations in the making. They fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence, or traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In both cases, they made enormous contributions to the formation of those great nations. Among them:

Burnes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Burnes, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [2]
  • Murphy Burnes, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [2]
  • Charles Burnes, who landed in Alexandria, Va in 1816 [2]
  • Charles Burnes, who settled in Virginia in 1816
  • P Burnes, aged 24, who landed in America in 1821 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Burnes migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Burnes Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Kitty and Patrick Burnes, who settled in Canada in 1839

Australia Burnes migration to Australia +

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

Burnes Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Burnes, (b. 1779), aged 43, Irish ploughman who was convicted in Cork, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 3rd September 1822, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [3]
  • Mr. Thomas Burnes, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 20 years, transported aboard the "Edwin Fox" on 24th August 1858, arriving in Western Australia, Australia

New Zealand Burnes 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:

Burnes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Charlotte Burnes, (b. 1846), aged 22, British housemaid travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th January1869 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Burnes (post 1700) +

  • James Burnes (b. 1870), American Private serving in the United States Marine Corps during the Boxer Rebellion, recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • James Nelson Burnes (1827-1889), American politician, U.S. Representative from Missouri (1883-1889)
  • John Francis Burnes (1883-1918), American officer in the United States Marine Corps during World War I and the first Marine Mustang, eponym of the USS John Francis Burnes (DD-299)
  • Corbin Brian Burnes (b. 1994), American Major League Baseball pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers
  • Robert Burnes (1719-1789), or Robert Burness, Scottish paternal uncle of the poet Robert Burns who referred to him as Poor Uncle Robert upon his death in 1789
  • James Burnes KH FRS (1801-1862), Scottish doctor and surgeon in India, Physician-General of Bombay
  • William Burnes (1721-1784), or William Burness, Scottish father of the poet Robert Burns, trained as a gardener at Inverugie Castle, Aberdeenshire, before moving to Ayrshire and becoming a tenant farmer
  • Captain Sir Alexander Burnes FRS (1805-1841), nicknamed Bokhara Burnes, a Scottish explorer, military officer, and diplomat associated with the Great Game
  • Ernie Burnes (1907-1969), Australian rules footballer who played with Fitzroy in the Victorian Football League in 1932
  • George Gordon Burnes (1866-1949), Australian businessman and first-class cricketer in New Zealand
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Burnes 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: Perseverantia vincit
Motto Translation: Perseverance conquers


  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/
  2. 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)
  3. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  4. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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