Select Burton Surname Genealogy

The surname Burton derives from the place-name Burton, found mainly in the midland and northern counties of England (the best known today being Burton on Trent in Staffordshire).  The derivation in most cases is from the Old English burh meaning “fort” and tun an “enclosure” or “settlement.”  Ioluard in Burhtun appeared as a name in Yorkshire as early as 1150.

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Select Burton Ancestry

England.  The Burton name appeared in the English Midlands from an early time. 

Robert de Burton was recorded in the village of Ibstock in Leicestershire around the year 1200.  From him came Sir William Burton, standard bearer for Henry VI who died at the Battle of Towton in 1461:
  • there followed the Burtons of Lindley Hall where Ralph Burton was a country gentleman.  One son Robert was an Oxford scholar who wrote the classic book The Anatomy of Melancholy.  Another son William was a noted antiquarian. 
  • from another line via Sir William's brother came Richard Burton, the sheriff of Derbyshire in 1628.
Other early Burtons were Burton MP’s in Nottinghamshire before and after the year 1400, Thomas Burton the wool merchant of Loughborough in Leicestershire, and the Burtons of Longner Hall near Shrewsbury in Shropshire.  Burtons have been living at Longner Hall since 1346 and perhaps earlier and are still there. Edward Burton of this family survived Towton in 1461 and was knighted afterwards by Edward IV.  Richard Burton, the 19th century explorer and orientalist, was a later descendant of this family.

In the mid 19th century John Burton from Collingham in Nottinghamshire trained as a printer and then set up a photography studio in Leicester.  He prospered and even attracted royal patronage.  On his death in 1881 two of his sons, Oliver and John, carried on his business,  Two other sons, Alfred and Walter, emigrated to New Zealand in 1868 and set up a successful photography studio in Dunedin (although Walter later sadly took his own life).

Yorkshire  The Burton name soon extended north into Yorkshire.  Henry Burton was a Puritan from the West Riding who had his ears cut off in 1637 for his anti-establishment pamphlets.  Richard Burton who emigrated to Virginia in the 1630’s came from a Yorkshire family in the West Riding.  Ralph Burton from Cottingham in the East Riding was a colonial administrator in Canada in the 1760’s.  Burtons were recorded in the Grewelthorpe area of north Yorkshire from the 1770’s.

Elsewhere  The Burton architect family in London was originally Haliburton from Scotland who had shortened their name.  Father James Burton designed much of the Georgian London in the early 1800’s.  His son Decimus (the tenth in the family) was also a notable architect, another son James a well-known Egyptologis

America.  Richard Burton, who came to Virginia from London in 1634, was probably the first Burton to come to America.  His sons Thomas and John owned nearby plantations, at Cobbs and Longfield in Henrico county. Descendant Robert Burton fought in the Revolutionary War and later served in the Continental Congress for Virginia.  He was a guardian to his nephew Hutchins Burton who became the Governor of North Carolina. Numerous Burtons of this family served on the Confederate side during the Civil War.  

John Burton from Raburn county in Georgia also fought on the Confederate side.  His father Jeremiah had moved there from South Carolina in the 1840’s, gave his name to Burton township, and, after it was flooded out in 1919, to Lake Burton. 

Joseph Burton, a plumber from Romford in Essex, brought his family to Canada in 1818.  Later joined by relatives, they made their home in Scarborough, now a suburb of Toronto. 

Samuel and Hannah Burton from Lincolnshire came
around the same time and settled in Amherstburg, Ontario where Taylor, the tenth in their family, was born.  Taylor was ordained an elder in the Mormon church in 1843 and departed for Salt Lake valley five years later.  He practiced plural marriage and had twenty seven children.

Select Burton Miscellany

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

Select Burton Names

Robert Burton was the 17th century scholar at Oxford University, best known for his The Anatomy of Melancholy.
Sir Richard Burton
was a famous 19th century explorer and writer.
Montague Burton
, born Moshe Osinsky in Lithuania, founded Burton the large UK men's clothing chain. 
Richard Burton,
born Richard Jenkins, was the Welsh-born actor of the 1960’s and 1970’s, known as well for his marriage to the actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Tim Burton
is an American film director and producer

Select Burtons Today
  • 49,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 35,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 25,000 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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