Byrkes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman names that came to Ireland in the 12th century. The surname Byrkes is derived from the Old English word "burh," which is derived from the Old German word "burg," the common Germanic word for a fortification. It seems likely that the first family to bear this surname would have lived in or near a prehistoric fort situated on a hill. In the Norman fashion, surnames created from place names or geographic locations were prefixed by "de," which means "from" in French.
Early Origins of the Byrkes family
The surname Byrkes was first found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where the family name is descended from the Norman noble William Fitzadelm de Burgo who went to Ireland in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland and was the succeeded Strongbow as Chief Governor.
"Robert de Burgh, Earl of Moreton in Normandy, son of Harlowen de Burgh, by Arlotta, his wife, mother of William the Conqueror, participated with his half-brother in the triumph at Hastings, was created Earl of Cornwall, and received, as a further recompense, grants of seven hundred and ninety-three manors. His son, William Earl of Cornwall, who, rebelling against the Henry I., joined Robert of Normandy, and led the van at the battle of Tenchebray. He fell into the hands of his opponents and was sent prisoner to England, where he was treated with much cruelty, and detaining him in captivity for life. He left two sons: I. Adelm, from whom descended the Burghs, Earls of Ulster, the noble House of Clanricarde, and the various families of Burke, so widely scattered over the south west district of Ireland; and II. John, whose son, Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, was Justiciary of England, temp. Henry III., and one of the greatest subjects in England." 
Great stretches of land were given to this family in the year 1177. Richard Oge de Burc, son of William, became the "Lord Justice of Ireland" under King Henry II in 1177 and was regranted the lands of his father the following year. 
Richard Mor de Burc, the older son of William, was the ancestor of the family name Bourke or Burke. They formed several septs, the two most important having been the MacWilliam Uachtar sept of county Galway, and the MacWilliam Lochtar sept of county Mayo.
It should be noted that not all of the family were in Ireland as some were found in Knaresborough, in the West Riding of Yorkshire in ancient times. "At the time of the Domesday Survey it formed part of the royal demesnes, and was given by the Conqueror to Serlo de Burgh, Baron of Tonsburg, in Normandy, who had accompanied that monarch into England, and by whom its stately castle, now a ruin, was originally built, on the rocky heights north of the river Nidd." 
Another noted source confirms Knaresborough as a point of origin, but has a different Norman baron: " 'Burgh' must here stand for Serlo de Burgh, a powerful Northern baron in the time of the Conqueror, who built Knaresborough Castle, and appears to have taken his name from the manor of Burgh, in Yorkshire. " 
Early History of the Byrkes family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Byrkes research. Another 140 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1227, 1503, 1544, 1582, 1601, 1572, 1635, 1604, 1657, 1590, 1667, 1629, 1647, 1647, 1667, 1598, 1672, 1666, 1642 and 1722 are included under the topic Early Byrkes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Byrkes Spelling Variations
During an investigation of the origin of each name, it was found that church officials and medieval scribes spelled many surnames as they sounded. Therefore, during the lifetime of a single person, a name could be spelt numerous ways. Some of the spelling variations for the name Byrkes include de Burgh, Burke, Bourke, Burk, Bourk, Gillick and many more.
Early Notables of the Byrkes family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the family up to this time was Theobald Bourke, 8th Mac William Iochtar and lord of Lower (North) Connacht, died 1503; Ulick Ceann Burke (died 1544), 12th Clanricarde and 1st Earl of Clanricarde; Richard Sassanach Burke, 2nd Earl of Clanricarde (died 1582); Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricarde, (died 1601), Irish peer; Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde (1572-1635), an Irish nobleman; Ulick Burke, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde (1604-1657), was an...
Migration of the Byrkes family
A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name Byrkes: Ann Burk who settled in Virginia in 1647; James and Tobias Burk settled in Barbados in 1680; with their servants; Elizabeth Burk settled in Maryland in 1774.
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: Ung roy, ung foy, ung loy
Motto Translation: One king, one faith, one law.