Burnlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Burnlay is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in Lancashire, where they derived their name from the town of Burnley, in the parish of Whalley. The name is generally believed to be derived from "Brun Lea" meaning "meadow by the River Brun." [1]

Early Origins of the Burnlay family

The surname Burnlay was first found in Lancashire, where Burnley dates back to 1122, when a charter granted the church of Burnley to the monks of Pontefract Abbey. The Market Cross, erected in 1295 survives today at Burnley College.

Early History of the Burnlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burnlay research. Another 229 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1500, 1662, 1691 and 1732 are included under the topic Early Burnlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Burnlay Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Burnlay are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. The variations of the name Burnlay include: Burnley, Brunlay, Burnlie, Burnly, Bernley and others.

Early Notables of the Burnlay family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Burnlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Burnlay family

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Burnlay or a variant listed above: Peter Burnley who arrived in Maryland in 1685 and John Burnley who arrived in Philadelphia in 1846.



The Burnlay 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: Pretiumque et causa laboria
Motto Translation: The reward and cause of labour.


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)


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