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
records in the 1200’s.But the case that its origin is locational
has as much substance:

  • the Old English bar
    “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

Borden, Bearden, and Burdon became surnames, often ending up as Burden
over time (although the Borden name has continued in America).

Burden/Borden Resources on

Burden/Borden Ancestry

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

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

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

Bordens.  It was
the Bordens that captured the attention, however.  These
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,
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

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
British colony of Nova Scotia.  His son
Perry settled there in the Annapolis valley. The line led to Sir
Borden, a Canadian Cabinet Minister from 1896 to 1911, and to Sir
Borden, Canadian Prime Minister from 1911 to 1920.

Australia.  Philip and Mary
Burden emigrated to South Australia in the early 1850’s from London
Burdens originated from Wiltshire).
Philip worked for the Adelaide
, 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:

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)



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