This website presents a brief summary of my research on the Burness family. I would greatly appreciate any additional information or corrections, and would be very pleased to hear from any distant relatives. Thanks. John Burness
My research started with tracing my own Burness ancestors, but expanded into a One-Name Study, which means I am researching every occurance of the Burness surname worldwide. My primary interest is tracing every Burness I can find, and determining where they fit in the Burness family tree. I am also interested in other descendants of the Burness family through female lines, although a lot of this information has come from other researchers.
My research indicates that almost everyone named Burness around the world is likely descended from a common ancestor in Kincardineshire, Scotland. However, I have also found a few Burness familes with different origins. One is French-Canadian and was originally spelled Bornais and Borness before becoming Burness. A couple others derive from Russia, and appear to have adopted the Burness surname when immigrating to the United States.
Kincardineshire was located on the east coast Scotland, south of Aberdeen and north of Montrose.
The surnames Burness, Burnes, Burns, Burn, Burnside, Burnhouse, etc. are all generally considered to have similar origins from the word burn, which is a small stream in Scotland and northern England. Since there are thousands of burns in Scotland and England, there are undoubtedly many unrelated families, each descended from an ancestor who lived beside a burn. However, in early records, the spelling Burness is found only in Kincardineshire, and in fact only in about eight adjoining parishes in central Kincardineshire. Later records show the Burness family gradually expanded from there to the rest of Kincardineshire, to neighbouring parishes in Angus and Aberdeenshire, to other parts of Scotland, to England, and then eventually overseas to America, Australia, etc.
Sections of this Website:
- Person Pages: These pages provide summary information for over 18,000 people, including link to family tree chart if known. These are sorted by ID number, so it is best to use the Master Index.
- Main Branch: Family tree charts for the descendants of Walter Burness, tenant of Bogjorgan in Glenbervie, Kincardineshire, who died there in 1670. The main chart shows the first four generations, while the other charts show further generations to the present time for twelve of Walter's descendants, including the poet Robert Burns.
- Scottish Branches: Information on the earliest ancestor and family tree charts for about thirty branches of the Burness family which have been traced back to Kincardineshire, or other nearby locations in Scotland. They are most likely descended from a common ancestor with the Main Branch, but the exact connection has not been determined.
- English Branches: Information on the earliest ancestor and family tree charts for six branches of the Burness family which have been traced back to England. They may be connected to the Scottish family from Kincardineshire, since they first appear in England in late 18th century or early 19th century, but the exact connections have not been determined.
- Other Branches: Information on the earliest ancestor and family tree charts for six branches of the Burness family which have been traced back to the United States or Australia. They may be connected to the English or Scottish family, but the connections have not been determined.
- Unconnected Branches: Information on the earliest ancestor and family tree charts for three branches of the Burness family which are not related to the Scottish family. Two originated in Russia, while the third (originally Bornais) came from Quebec.
- Robert Burns Family History: The poet Robert Burns is the most famous member of the Burness family. He changed the spelling of his last name from Burness to Burns in 1786.
- My Ancestors: Another area of this website devoted to research on my non-Burness ancestors and their descendants.
Information on this Website:
- The information posted on this website is limited to names and relationships, plus the date and location of birth, marriage, death and burial.
- For people born after 1918, only names and relationships are shown.
- In many cases, I have extensive additional information, and I am willing to share this with others researching these families, in exchange for whatever additional information they may have.
- The information on this website has come from a variety of sources. The reliability of these sources ranges from original documents, such as birth and death certificates, to unverified information obtained fom the internet. As well, some information has come from other researchers, and has not been verified by myself. I will provide details on my sources upon request.