Show ContentsBurnley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Burnley is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is a product of 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 Burnley family

The surname Burnley 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 Burnley family

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

Burnley Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Burnley has been spelled many different ways, including Burnley, Brunlay, Burnlie, Burnly, Bernley and others.

Early Notables of the Burnley family (pre 1700)

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

Burnley Ranking

In the United States, the name Burnley is the 11,908th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Burnley migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Burnleys to arrive in North America:

Burnley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Peter Burnley who arrived in Maryland in 1685
Burnley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elizabeth Burnley, who landed in Virginia in 1778 [3]
  • John Burnley, who arrived in Virginia in 1778 [3]
Burnley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Burnley who arrived in Philadelphia in 1846

Australia Burnley migration to Australia +

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

Burnley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Burnley (aged 28), a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Eliza"

West Indies Burnley migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [4]
Burnley Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mary Burnley, aged 19, who landed in Barbados in 1683 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Burnley (post 1700) +

  • Dorothy Rockwell "Dot" Burnley (1927-2016), American businesswoman and politician, Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives (1981-1985)
  • Jack Burnley (1911-2006), American comic book artist and illustrator who under the pen name Hardin Burnley was the first artist, after co-creator Joe Shuster, to draw Superman
  • James H. Burnley IV (b. 1948), American politician and lawyer from North Carolina
  • Benjamin Jackson Burnley (b. 1978), American vocalist and guitarist
  • James Horace IV Burnley (b. 1948), American politician, Secretary of Transportation, 1987-89 [5]
  • Charles W. Burnley (d. 1969), American Democratic Party politician, Member of Kentucky State House of Representatives 4th District, 1944-57 [5]
  • Elizabeth "Liz" Burnley CBE (b. 1959), English Chief Guide of Girlguiding UK between 2006 and 2011
  • Kenneth S. Burnley, American Senior Resident Fellow at the University of Michigan School of Education
  • Liz Burnley (b. 1959), Chief Guide of Girlguiding UK since 2006
  • John David Burnley, British lecturer and author

The Burnley 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)
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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)
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 10) . Retrieved from on Facebook