Show ContentsBurwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Burwell is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in Burwell, a place-name found in a number of English counties including Northampton, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire. Thus, an original bearer of the surname Burwell hailed from any of the above places. The place-name Burwell is derived from the Old English byrig-wiellw which means town well or fort by a spring.

Early Origins of the Burwell family

The surname Burwell was first found in Cambridgeshire at Burwell, a village and civil parish located there since 1060 when records there have the village name as Burcwell. Remains of a 12th century fort's dry moat can still be seen there today. "Here are the ruins of a castle surrounded by a moat, which was besieged in the war between Stephen and the Empress Matilda, by Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, who was shot by an arrow from the walls. The church of St. Andrew Burwell has long been demolished, and the cemetery converted into pastureground." [1]

Burwell Castle was an unfinished medieval motte and bailey castle. It was built in 1143 by Stephen I of England, on the site of a former Roman villa. Thomas Lethbridge excavated the site in 1935 and since 1983 the site is held by the Burwell Parish Council.

The Domesday Book [2] of 1086 lists the spellings Burewelle, Burwella and Burwelle. At that time it was part of the Stapole hundred, held by the Abbot of Ramsey. The same reference lists Buruelle which has been modernized as Burwell in Lincolnshire. [3]

Early History of the Burwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Burwell research. Another 96 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Burwell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Burwell 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 Burwell 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 Burwell include: Burwell, Burwelle and others.

Early Notables of the Burwell family (pre 1700)

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

Burwell Ranking

In the United States, the name Burwell is the 5,715th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

United States Burwell migration to the United States +

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 Burwell or a variant listed above:

Burwell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Lewis Burwell, who landed in Virginia in 1640 [5]
  • William Burwell, who landed in Virginia in 1648 [5]
  • George and Frances Burwell who settled in Virginia in 1648 with their children, Elizabeth, Francis, Lewis, Robert, William
  • Elizabeth Burwell, who landed in Virginia in 1648 [5]
  • Fra Burwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1648 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Burwell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Cyprian Burwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [5]
  • Winifred Burwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [5]
Burwell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Dorothy Burwell, aged 50, who arrived with George her husband in New York in 1820 with seven children

Canada Burwell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Burwell Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Sgt. Samuel Burwell U.E. born in New Jersey, USA from Rockaway, New Jersey, USA who died during the war c. 1781 he served as part of the New Jersey Volunteers, he was certified as U.E Loyalist, survived by 3 children [6]
  • Mr. Adam Burwell U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]
  • Mr. James Burwell U.E. (b. 1754) born in Rockaway, New Jersey, USA who settled in Nova Scotia c. 1783, finally settling in Southwold Township, Elgin County, Ontario he served as part of the New Jersey Volunteers he married Hannah Frazee they had 10 children he died in 1853 Fingal, Ontario [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Burwell (post 1700) +

  • Lilian Thomas Burwell (b. 1927), American sculptor and painter from Washington, D.C
  • Guy Burwell (b. 1965), American illustrator and designer based in Portland, Oregon
  • Richard Matthew "Dick" Burwell (b. 1940), American former professional baseball pitcher who pitched parts of two seasons in Major League Baseball, 1960 and 1961
  • Bryan Ellis Burwell (1955-2014), American sportswriter and author
  • William Edwin "Bill" Burwell (1895-1973), American professional baseball player, manager and coach
  • Armistead Burwell (1777-1841), early American planter of Dinwiddie County, Virginia and a colonel of the United States Army in the War of 1812
  • Sylvia Mary Burwell (b. 1965), American government and non-profit executive, 15th President of American University since June 1, 2017, the first woman to serve as the university's president
  • William Armisted Burwell (1780-1821), American nineteenth-century Virginia politician and planter who served as presidential secretary and as a Democratic-Republican in the United States House of Representatives and the Virginia House of Delegates
  • Mahlon Burwell (1783-1846), American-born, Canadian surveyor and politician in Upper Canada, eponym of Port Burwell, Ontario
  • Brigadier-General Harvey S. Burwell (1890-1955), American Commanding General of Amarillo Army Air Base, Texas (1943-1944) [7]
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. 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)
  6. 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
  7. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, November 3) Harvey Burwell. Retrieved from on Facebook