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Burgum

 

About the study

The BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY was founded in England in the 1980's, by me, Doug Burgum. I had been brought up believing that my family were the only Burgums. The name was that rare! Then one rainy day in Manchester, I looked in a telephone directory and found a listing for the name. Two, in fact.
Who were they?

I searched more telephone directories and began writing letters. I contacted Burgums all over the UK, and later in Australia, Brazil, Singapore, South Africa and the United States of America. I began researching the various families, linking them where possible. I published the results of his research in a quarterly journal, revealing the amazing stories I uncovered. There were still only limited numbers of Burgums (and Burghams); the name is rare. However, the membership of the BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY steadily grew. There are now over one hundred and fifty members of the Society throughout the world and a significant Facebook following.

The BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Journal ceased publication after 18 years due to the rising costs of publishing and postage. However the work continues on the family history and on the website (link below), which is updated frequently. I worked as an airline pilot, flying 747's around the world and was lucky enough to meet many of my distant cousins around the world.

More information, facts and stories, are frequently added to the website (see the link below).

Variant names

The most common alternative spelling of the name BURGUM is BURGHAM. During research into the Burgum family history, the spellings BURGUM and BURGHAM have been virtually interchangeable. Only in the later generations have the spellings stabilised to one version or the other. Numerous other mis-spellings variations are possible.

Name origin

BURGUM is listed in the book 'Surnames of the U.K.' by William Harrison (published by Eaton Press in 1912). It states... 'BURGUM, BURGHAM (Eng): Belonging to Burgham = the field or enclosure of the stronghold (Old English - Burg, a stronghold; and ham - an enclosure, a piece of land).'

Many have speculated that the name BURGUM sounds foreign. My own family thought that the Burgums were originally Norwegians. Others have insisted that we were German, French and Dutch. (The town of Burgum, in the Netherlands has no record of Burgums ever living there). There is very little evidence of an overseas link although UK history shows Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans all came to live in the UK. In those days, however, surnames were rare!

Burgums were certainly in England in the 1580's (when parish registers began). It seems likely that the foreign influence on the name BURGUM (and BURGHAM) is consistent with the foreign influence on language, rather than by direct emigration from abroad.

The earliest set of records in my possession are those of Linton, a village close to Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, a few miles north of the Forest of Dean, in England. There are considerable difficulties with records of this age. They are in Latin, hand-written, often faded and frequently mis-spelt. Bearing that in mind, the earliest record shows Margaret Berhume, daughter of Paul, baptised November 13th 1580. The name appears to vary from Bergoe, Burgo and Bergome. The first accurate spelling of BURGUM at Linton is in 1637. We cannot reject these earlier spellings, however. William and Katherin (sic) married as Bergom (1631), baptised Magaret as Bergo (1632), John as Birgum (1640) and Ann as Bergum (1643). Burgham became the most common mis-spelling of BURGUM and a number of BURGHAM families continue to this day.

The earliest BURGUM (so far!) recorded in the USA was John Burgum who, on June 19th 1773, married Mary Bartholomew. They were married at Christ Church, Philadelphia, just three short years before the American Declaration of Independence. At about that time pews at Christ Church were occupied by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and many others prominent in the birth of the United States of America. (Christ Church was designated a National Shrine by Act of Congress in 1950). John and Mary were witness to a remarkable time in American history.

History of the name

Numerous stories have been uncovered by the author, but you will need to go to the Burgum Family History website (link below) to read them all!

Henry Burgum, a Bristol pewterer, had his life ruined by Thomas Chatterton, a famous poet. John Burgum, an artist, decorated the famous Concord Coaches in the US and married the adopted daughter of a Countess of the Holy Roman Empire! For these and other stories, you will need to visit the website.

Name frequency

I have developed a coding system for the Burgum (and Burgham) families.

I am a member of the 'AA' family tree, which includes Burgums living in Essex, Kent, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Nottinghamshire, Manchester, Bolton, Gloucestershire, Dorset and Sussex. We also have relatives in living in Brazil.

The 'BB' family tree includes families in London, Essex, Dorset and Australia.

The 'DD' family mainly lives in the Livepool area or London, with others in South Wales, Kent, South Africa and Canada.

The 'FF' families mostly live in South Wales and the United States of America.

The 'HH' families are associated with Bolton (Lancashire) and Australia.

The 'JJ' is an American family (East Coast), while the OO' live in Tyneside.

'PP' are mostly from Bolton, while 'QQ' come from Birmingham and the USA.

'RR' all live in Australia and 'TT' live in the USA and in the UK.

(Clues suggest that BB, JJ, QQ are connected as I can place the families within half a mile of each other in the middle of the last century! I continue to search for confirmation). Similar clues exist for the other family groups and it is my contention that we are all related. All I need to do now is prove it!

Distribution of the name

Burgum and Burgham families can be found in the UK, Canada, the USA, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. However in can be shown that nearly all these families originated in the UK. Indeed the largest USA family of Burgums ('FF' family tree) can be placed historically in the Forest of Dean, just a few miles from my own family ('AA' family tree). The largest Australian family of Burgums ('RR' family tree) also originated from the same small area. The Brazilian Burgum are also part of my own ('AA' family tree).

Data

The BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY website has over 500 pages, lots of photographs and and thousands of individual entries. It has extensive lists of birth, marriage and deaths for Burgum and Burgum. It also has the UK and USA Census returns. Other lists include parish registers, wills, the IGI, newspaper cuttings, book lists, shipping records, prison registers, place names, social security lists (USA), military records, an A-Z index of names and much, much more!

DNA

There are no plans for a DNA project at this time, but perhaps one day....?

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