Select Burden/Borden Surname Genealogy

The name Burden and its variants may have more than one origin.  Some think Burden was a Norman implant, from the Old French name Burdo or de Bourdon.  Various Norman Debourdons appeared in English records in the 1200's. 

But the case that its origin is locational has as much substance:
  • the Old English bar meaning "boar" and den "valley"  produced Borden in Kent.  
  • a slightly diifferent configuration of bare meaning "barely" and den "valley" resulted in Bearden in Essex. 
  • and barh meaning "fortified hill" and dun "hill" produced Burdon in Durham. 
Borden, Bearden, and Burdon became surnames, often ending up as Burden over time (although the Borden name has continued in America).     

Select Burden/Borden Resources on The Internet

Select Burden/Borden Ancestry

England.   Bearden as a surname appeared in Essex in 1287.  Later forms were Berdon and Burden.  Borden today is a village in Kent near Sittingbourne.  A Borden family who were yeoman farmers have been traced to the village of Headcorn nearby in the 1400's.  By the turn of the 17th century, there were also Burdens west in Hampshire and further west in Little Tottington in Devon and Jacobstaw in Cornwall.  Hampshire today has the largest number of Burdens in England.

Burdons.  There was a northern Burdon outpost in Durham.  In 1486, Thomas Burdon took "two oxgangs of land" in Stockton on Tees.  The Burdons were the local force in the town until the 19th century, from their base in later years at the old manor house in Castle Eden.  Rowland Burdon IV (they were all called Rowland) built the Sunderland to Stockton turnpike and also the first cast iron bridge over the Wear at Sunderland.

Although some Burdons remained, most of these Burdons decamped to New Zealand in the 19th century. They became major landowners in the Canterbury area of South Island.  Philip Burdon from this family was a forceful New Zealand politician in the 1990's.      

America.  Burdens outnumber Bordens by approximately three to two in America. 

Bordens.  It was the Bordens that captured the attention, however.  These Bordens are primarily the descendants of Richard and Jane Borden who came to Rhode Island from Kent in 1635.  Richard was a surveyor and as a consequence was able to secure large tracts of land in Rhode Island and what is now New Jersey. 

The family produced Benjamin Borden, whose land grants in the 1740's were instrumental in opening up the Shenandoah valley in Virginia.  Benjamin's descendant Gail Borden, who settled in Texas, was the inventor of condensed milk in 1856.  From this discovery came the Borden Milk Company and later the Borden Corporation.

Another line led to Lizzie Borden in Fall River, Massachusetts.  She became the central figure in the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother in 1892.  Her trial and subsequent acquittal attracted national attention.  Most thought her guilty and her story has passed into American folklore.  As the children's rhyme went:

"Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks,
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty one."

Burdens.  There were Burdens from Essex and elsewhere in Virginia by the 1650's.  James Burden crossed into Kentucky in 1785.  He had nineteen children by two wives.  So there were a large number of descendants. 

However, the Burden who perhaps left most of a mark was the Charles Burden who arrived in Louisiana in the 1850's. He acquired the Windrush plantation near Baton Rouge.  Later, under the careful attention of his descendants, particularly the landscape gardener Ollie Steele Burden, the site blossomed as a horticultural center.  The family relinquished control in the 1960's and the site, now the Burden Center for Horticultural Research, is run by Louisiana State University. 

Canada.  Samuel Borden, a descendant of Richard and Jane Borden, had come from Rhode Island in 1760 to survey the land of the new British colony of Nova Scotia.  His son Perry settled there in the Annapolis valley. The line led to Sir Frederick Borden, a Canadian Cabinet Minister from 1896 to 1911, and to Sir Robert Borden, Canadian Prime Minister from 1911 to 1920.

  Philip and Mary Burden emigrated to South Australia in the early 1850ís from London (these Burdens originated from Wiltshire).  Philip worked for the Adelaide Advertiser, his son Fred later became its editor and part-owner

Select Burden/Borden Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Burden/Borden Names

Rowland Burdon was a wealthy 18th century merchant banker in Stockton, Durham.
Henry Burden from Scotland arrived in upstate New York in 1820 and pioneered steamboat development and the use of water wheels in iron works.  His Burden iron works in Troy is now a historical site and museum.
Gail Borden from Texas was the inventor of condensed milk in 1856.
Robert Laird Borden was the 8th Prime Minister of Canada, from 1911 to 1920.
Eric Burdon was the lead singer of the 1960's Newcastle rock group, The Amimals, best known for their rendition of The House of the Rising Sun.

Select Burdens/Bordens Today
  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Hampshire)
  • 5,000 in America (most numerous in Kentucky)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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