Burns History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Burns family lived among the Strathclyde-Briton people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. Burns is a name for someone who lived in the county of Cumberland. On the onset, it is best first to establish that the family name Burns is in fact a Clan rather than a Sept of the Campbell Clan. A Roll of the Clans and Chiefs in 1597 shows the Burns Clan as having territories in the eastern Border marches of Scotland in East Teviotdale.

They were described as an unruly Clan. However, to relate the origins of this great Clan, we must go back to the year 1329, when their territories were located in the parish of Glenbervie. They had moved into these lands during the reign of King Edward I of England, from Burneshead, Cumberland, sometime around 1296.

Little is known about their previous history, but it is thought that they derived from a race called the Boernicians, a race of early Scots that ruled the north East coast of England as far north as Edinburgh. By 1375, the Clan had extended its territories to include Burnhouse of Kair, Burnside of Monboddo, Bralinmuir and Bon Jordan in Inchbreck, and Bernys in the barony of Renfrew.

"But for the name of the Scottish poet, genealogists north of the Tweed have a different origin - His forefathers are said to have come from Taynuilt or Burnhouse there, and emigrated to Forfarshire, where they - of course they were Campbells - were designated by the name Campbells of Burnhouse, and latterly Burness or simply Burns." [1]

Further to the south in England, there is another possible origin of the name: "this surname is derived from a geographical locality. 'at the burn,' i.e. stream; Middle English burne or bourne. More especially parishes in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, and Hampshire." [2]

Early Origins of the Burns family

The surname Burns was first found in Cumberland, where the original name was Burness. Even Robert Burns and his brother both agreed to shorten their name to Burns due to the difficulty in pronunciation by the Gaelic tongue. Later, the name was also spelled Bourne, Burn and even Bernes.

The famed Robert "Rabbie" Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet and lyricist is best known as the national poet of Scotland, and author of "Auld Lang Syne." He was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland and was eldest of the seven children of William Burnes (1721-1784), a self-educated tenant farmer.

Early History of the Burns family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burns research. Another 172 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1603, 1851, 1877, 1759, 1796, 1741 and are included under the topic Early Burns History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Burns Spelling Variations

Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Scotland. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. Spelling variations are thus an extremely common occurrence in Medieval Scottish names. Burns has been spelled Burns, Burnes, Burness and others.

Early Notables of the Burns family (pre 1700)

Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Burns Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Burns World Ranking

In the United States, the name Burns is the 142nd most popular surname with an estimated 161,655 people with that name. [3] However, in Canada, the name Burns is ranked the 236th most popular surname with an estimated 17,125 people with that name. [4] And in Australia, the name Burns is the 117th popular surname with an estimated 23,318 people with that name. [5] New Zealand ranks Burns as 196th with 2,845 people. [6] The United Kingdom ranks Burns as 133rd with 37,701 people. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Burns family to Ireland

Some of the Burns family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 85 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Burns migration to the United States +

Such hard times forced many to leave their homeland in search of opportunity across the Atlantic. Many of these families settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. The ancestors of many of these families have rediscovered their roots in the 20th century through the establishment of Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Among them:

Burns Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Eleanor Burns, who arrived in America in 1796 [8]
Burns Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mick Burns, aged 25, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [8]
  • Agnes Burns, who arrived in America in 1805 [8]
  • Catherine Burns, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [8]
  • Elizabeth Burns, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [8]
  • Darby Burns, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Burns migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Burns Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. George Burns U.E. who settled in Sissiboo [Weymouth], Nova Scotia c. 1783 he served in the Kings American Regiment as well as Kings Orange Rangers [9]
  • Mr. James Burns U.E. who settled in Home District, [Niagara], Lincoln County, Ontario c. 1783 [9]
  • Mr. Philip Burns U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [9]
  • Mr. Samuel Burns U.E. who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1783 [9]
  • Mr. William Burns U.E. who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1783 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Burns Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Catherine Burns, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1806
  • James Burns, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1828
  • Milton C Burns, who landed in Canada in 1830
  • Mary Burns, aged 36, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "William" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Ann Burns, aged 10, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "William" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Burns Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Mrs. A M Burns, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • Alice M E Burns, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Burns migration to Australia +

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

Burns Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Burns, British Convict who was convicted in Stirling, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Earl Spencer" in May 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. Charles Burns, (Barns), Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [11]
  • John Burns, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • John Burns, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. Jeremiah Burns, (Byrnes), (b. 1790), aged 33, Irish quarryman who was convicted in Waterford, Ireland for life, transported aboard the "Castle Forbes" on 28th September 1823, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Burns 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:

Burns Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • David Burns, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Burns, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mrs Burns, who landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Lord Auckland
  • Mr. Peter Burns, British settler arriving as the 1st detachment of Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps travelling from Tilbury, Essex aboard the ship "Ramillies" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 6th August 1847 [14]
  • Rev. Thomas Burns, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Philip Laing" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th April 1848 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Burns (post 1700) +

  • Robert Burns (1759-1796), known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the national poet of Scotland, best remembered for his poem "Auld Lang Syne"
  • Charles Frederick Burns (1936-2021), American NHL ice hockey forward who played 749 games in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Minnesota North Stars
  • Brian P. Burns (1936-2021), American entrepreneur, attorney and philanthropist, a leader in the Irish-American community
  • Anthony Burns (1834-1862), American slave from Virginia who became a Baptist, "slave preacher" and emigrated to Upper Canada
  • Karla Burns (1954-2021), American Laurence Olivier Award winning,Tony Award nominated operatic mezzo-soprano and actress, best known for her role as Queenie in the 1982 revival of Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern's 1927 musical Show Boat
  • Jerome Monahan Burns (1927-2021), American college and professional football coach for the Minnesota Vikings (1986-1991)
  • Allan Burns (1936-2021), American three-time Primetime Emmy Award winning screenwriter and television producer, best known for creating and writing for the television sitcom The Munsters as well as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda
  • James B. Burns (1945-2020), American lawyer who served as the inspector general for the Illinois Secretary of State
  • Kevin Burns (1955-2020), American television and film producer, director, and screenwriter, known for his work with A&E, National Geographic Channel, E!, Animal Planet, AMC and more
  • Conrad Ray Burns (1935-2016), American politician, United States Senator from Montana (1989-2007)
  • ... (Another 252 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Charles Burns, British Assistant Storekeeper from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [15]
Flight 191
  • Paula M Burns, American from San Diego, California, USA, aged 32, who worked aboard American Airlines Flight 191 and died in the crash [16]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. John  Burns (1847-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [17]
HMAS Sydney II
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Albert S Burns (b. 1913), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [19]
HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Gerrard Burns, British Leading Steward, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [21]
  • Mr. Thomas R Burns, Irish Leading Telegraphist from Ireland, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [21]
HMS Royal Oak
  • John Edward Burns (1911-1939), British Corporal with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [22]
  • Arthur Burns (d. 1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [22]
Lady of the Lake
  • Miss Isabella Burns (b. 1813), Irish traveller from Fintonia, Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she died in the sinking
  • Miss Letitia Burns (b. 1811), Irish traveller from Fintonia, Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she died in the sinking
  • Mrs. Isabella Burns (b. 1783), Irish traveller from Fintonia, Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she died in the sinking
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Peter Burns, English Trimmer from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [23]
  • Mr. Joseph Burns, English Fireman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [23]
  • Mr. John James Burns, English Leading Fireman from Bootle, Lancashire, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [23]
RMS Titanic
  • Miss Mary Delia Burns (d. 1912), aged 17, Irish Third Class passenger from Kilmacowen, Sligo who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [24]
  • Miss Elizabeth Margaret Burns, aged 41, American First Class passenger from Tuxedo Park, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 3 [24]
SS Caribou
  • Mr. J. M. Burns, American passenger who was US Navy was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he died in the sinking
USS Arizona
  • Mr. John Edward Burns, American Fireman First Class from Pennsylvania, 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 [25]
Winter Quarters coal mine
  • Mr. John Martin Burns (b. 1881), Scottish mine worker from Ayr, Scotland residing in Scofield, Utah who worked in the Winter Quarters coal mine on 1st May 1900, when 10 of the 25lb kegs of black powder exploded; he died in the explosion [26]
  • Mr. Ralph Burns (b. 1860), American mine worker from Scofield, Utah who worked in the Winter Quarters coal mine on 1st May 1900, when 10 of the 25lb kegs of black powder exploded; he died in the explosion [26]


Suggested Readings for the name Burns +

  • The Burns Family and Allied Lines of North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas by Estella Mae Burns Stewart.

  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  4. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  7. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th September 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-spencer
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  13. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 2nd January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/castle-forbes)
  14. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  15. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  16. ^ Flight 191's Victims - latimes. (Retrieved 2014, April 16) . Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1985-08-04/news/mn-4349_1_fort-lauderdale-area
  17. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  18. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  19. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  20. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  21. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  22. ^ 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
  23. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  24. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  25. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html
  26. ^ Miners killed in Winter Quarters (retrieved 28th July 2021). Retrieved from http://www.carbon-utgenweb.com/miners.html


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