Select Burden/Borden Miscellany

Here are some Burden/Borden stories and accounts over the years:

Francis and Robergis DeBourdon

It is said that Francis DeBourdon married his cousin Robergis in the village of Borden in Kent on Christmas Day 1200, were buried in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, and were pictured there with their two sons kneeling at Mass beside the following inscription of the Borden Moral Code:

"Be just: for the Lord only loaned us that which we have whether of goods or of talents, and in their use we must consider the rights of all men.

Be merciful: for we shall have no greater claim to the mercy we all shall finally need than that we forgive our brother's faults.

Be true: to friendship and to God, for truth is all of this life worth the having, and perfect truth is what the life to come shall reveal to us.  It is the prince of darkness that is the prince of lies." 

The story goes that a couple, Richard and Lavinia Cook, broke into this church at night in 1869 and removed the stone in the church which bore the Borden coat of arms.  They found that the stone was hollow and contained a cylindrical leaden box, also with the Borden coat of arms.  Inside this box was a cylinder of yellow cloth of well oiled linen waxed on the inside.  This contained a parchment manuscript by Robergis DeBourdon.  She wrote that her son Richard:

"will be strong, a man of iron, wise, and peaceful.  From him the Borden line will succeed.  It is now 154 years since Count William of Normandy defeated and killed the Great Harold, King of England, at Hastings.  There fell also Ethelwolf my Saxon mother's grandfather and lord of all the lands which William the Conqueror gave to his vassal, Francis DeBourdon.  My mother was Elfrida of Kent, my father Simon DeBourdon."

Richard Cook supplied these details in the limited edition book he wrote in 1901, Robergia: A Story of Old England.  How true all of this information is must be a matter of conjecture.   

Burdons in Durham

Burdon was listed by the Victorian surname researcher Henry Guppy as a Durham county name.  He had collected names of yeomen farmers who had been present in the county over a number of generations.  They included Pease, Proud, Bruce, Wearmouth, Eggleston, Heppell, Surtees, and Burdon.  It is highly likely that Burdon originated from a place called Great Burdon near Darlington.  This ancient place name means "great fort hill."

The surname first appeared when Thomas Burdon took "two oxgangs of land" in Stockton on Tees in 1486. Burdons were mayors of Stockton, from Robert Burdon in 1495 to Rowland Burdon in 1794. 

Benjamin Borden in Virginia

Benjamin's first recorded appearance in Virginia was in 1734 when he was appointed one of the justices of the newly formed Orange County.  Subsequently his name appeared frequently in land transactions in various parts of the Shenandoah valley.  His most important enterprise was the settlement of "Borden's Great Tract," a grant to him from the King of England of 92,100 acres in what was to become Rockbridge County.

One story has it that Benjamin killed a young buffalo and presented it to the Governor at Williamsburgh.  The Governor was so delighted that he granted him 500,000 acres.  Another version has it that Benjamin captured a buffalo calf and sent it to England as a present for the Queen.  In her appreciation she granted him 100,000 acres in the Virginia valley.

Benjamin's legal requirement as proprietor of the tract was to put up a bond of 1,800 and settle within a stated period of time a mimimum number of families on the tract.  He was to receive 1,000 acres of land for each cabin built on the tract.  Five years later, after 92 cabins had been constructed, he received his grant.  On his death in 1743, it was estimated that he owned 120,000 acres of land.

Most of this land was ordered to be sold by his will and the proceeds divided among his children.  However, it was not until 150 years later that all "known" descendants were satisfied with the division and that the court disputes ended.

The Louisiana Burdens and Their Wonderful Gift

William Pike, an early settler in Baton Rouge, had owned a considerable amount of property in East Baton Rouge parish.  His niece Emma married John Charles Burden in 1856 and it was John and Emma who built the old Burden House.  Family legend was that the plantation was named Windrush after a river in the Cotswolds in England where John had grown up. 

Various Burdens have lived on this beautiful expanse of land over the generations.  Of the 20th century siblings, Ollie Steele Burden and Ione Burden never married.  Pike Burden married the lovely Jeanette Monroe.  All three lived on the property until their death.  Each were extremely concerned for its preservation after they had gone.  Therefore in the 1960's the Borden family created the Burden Foundation to assist in the management, development, and preservation of the land and its invaluable resources.

It was not until the death of Pike that the Burden Foundation was able to devise a solid plan to maintain this pristine track of land.  They donated the property to Louisiana State University in 1973.  Thanks to strict guidelines for land use, the land at Burden Center will never see the effects of urban development.

Philip Burdon: A Man of Our Time

"It would be easy to make assumptions about someone like Philip Burdon.  The product of a long line of landed gentry going back to the 14th century and of well-heeled pilgrims on Canterbury's first four ships, brought up and educated as one of South Canterbury's privileged landowners, a distinguished old boy of Christ's College, and a self-made multimillionaire to boot - Burdon might appear to be the archetypal New Zealand anglocentric conservative.

The truth is very different.  The man is also a passionate republican, a businessman with an acute social conscience, a liberal politician who fought relentlessly against the right-wing ideologues of his own National Party, and not only slowed their extremist free-market reforms but convinced his caucus that this philosophy must wear a human face."

This is how Philip Burdon appears in Edmund Bohan's book, Burdon: A Man of Our Time.

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