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About the study

This study grew out of my desire to know more about the origins of Pardon Burlingham of New York.  It is established that he was born in February 1746, in New York state, and while his descendants have been documented, I would like to know more about where the Burlingham family originated and why they migrated from that locale. I'm curious as to why the spelling of the surname changed from 'Burlingham' in Great Britain to 'Burlingame' in the United States. It's also a goal to find links between Pardon Burlingham's New York family and the more well-known Burlinghams in Rhode Island as well as more distant relatives and ancestors in Great Britain and around the world.  

Variant names

The scope of this study will be limited to "Burlingham" and its most common variant "Burlingame."


Name origin

The following accounts were found regarding the origin of the Burlingham name. Most authors believe the name originated in East Anglia (Norfolk), England:

The Dictionary of American Family Names (Oxford University Press, 2013) states that the Burlingham name is English from East Anglia. It’s a “habitational name from Burlingham in Norfolk; ‘homestead (Old English ham) of Baerla’s or Byrla’s people,’ or from Birlingham in Worcestershire ‘enclosure (Old English hamm) of Byrla’s people.’" source:

In P.H. Reaney’s book, Origin of English Surnames, (N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 1967), the author “collected all local surnames in the Norwich Deeds for 1285-1341 and the Leet Rolls for 1288-1350. Only actual local surnames were included.” Reaney wrote, "the Norwich Deeds are clearly names of tradesmen, artisans etc. but not of the lowest class. Most of the surnames in the Leet Rolls are those of jurors, tradesmen and artisans.” Burlingham was one of the names cited in Reaney’s research. (p. 331-335)

In A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley (1872-1896), the author wrote: “This surname is derived from a geographical locality, ‘of Burlingham,’ two parishes in Norfolk near Acle. This surname has thrived in America, where it has assumed the form of Burlingame." And in the book, Surnames of the United Kingdom by Henry Harrison (1912), Burlingham is “(English) belonging to Burlingham the Home of the Byrl-family [Anglo Saxon *Byrlinga-ham-- -inga, genit. pl. of the son suff. –ing+ham, home estate].” source:

In the Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames 3rd Edition by P.H. Reaney and R. M. Wilson (Oxford University Press, 2005) is found the following entry: “Burglin, Burlin, Burling, Burlong: John Burgelun Ric 1 Bart; William le Burguillun 1243 AssSt [year 1243, Assize Rolls in Staffordshire], William Burgelun 1275 RH (Nf) [year 1275, Rotuli Hundredorum 2 Vol., London, 1812 & 1818, Norfolk], John Burgoillioun 1327 SR Sf [year 1327, Subsidy Rolls in Suffolk], Widow Burling 1674 HT Sf [year 1674, Hearth Tax in Suffolk]. The Burgundian probably a variant of OFr [Old French] Bourguignon variant Borgonon.” p. 74.  (Note: brackets were added for clarification purposes)

A very different interpretation of the Burlingham name origin is that it has been “recorded in a wide range of spellings including Barling, Berling, Burling, Buerling, Birlingham, Burlingame, Burlingham, this is usually an English surname. It is locational from a village in the county of Worcestershire called Birlingham or a similarly named village called Birling in the county of Kent.” [source:]

Historical occurrences of the name

Early bearers of the Burlingham/Burlingame name include:

Hugh de Byrlingham listed on the Hundred Rolls in Norfolk in the year 1273;

Henrie Burlingham found in Wattisfield, Suffolk in 1550;

Robert Burlingame found in Norwich, Norfolk in 1609;

Symond Burlingham found in Dilham, Norfolk in 1667;

John Burlingham found in Evesham, Worchestershire in 1743;

[source: IGI]

Anson Burlingame "was an early American ambassador to China.  Famous for making agreements without any reference to his own government, he died in St. Peterburg, Russia, in 1869.  [source: surname database]

Name frequency

The UK Office of National Statistics has a database list of 270,000 surnames in England, Wales & the Isle of Mann from the year 2002.  That database includes 434 individuals with the Birlingham name and 6 individuals with the Burlingame name.   source:

The National Archives of Great Britain hold 1,239 records containing the name Burlingham. They have 12 records with the variant Burlingame.

According to Public Profiler/gbnames, the frequency the Burlingham name in 1881 was 201 or seven occurrences per million names. By 1998 it had increased to 335 or nine occurrences per million names. Since there were fewer than 100 people with the Burlingame spelling in Great Britain Electoral Register in 1998, Public Profiler did not include that variant spelling in their statistics. Source:

According to US Census Records for 1940, there were 633 Burlingham entries and 2272 Burlingame entries (both based on exact spelling.)  Source:


Distribution of the name

If you click on "World Family names" at, Burlingham is found most frequently in the UK (7.91 frequencies per million) and most often in Norwich, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Peterborough, Bury St. Edmunds, Thetford and Attleborough in East Anglia and Southampton. The countries with the next highest frequency were New Zealand (3.88 FPM), Ireland (3.09 FPM), the U.S. (2.96 FPM) and Canada (1.6 FPM). Worldwide, the top regions for Burlingham are: East Anglia (86.16 FPM), Vermont, U.S. (80.21 FPM), Waikato District, New Zealand (62.39 FPM), North East Ireland (54.47 FPM), Dunedin City, New Zealand (44.02 FPM), British Columbia, Canada (17.83 FPM), Montana, U.S. (16.73 FPM), and Waitakere City, New Zealand (15.11 FPM).

Burlingame is found most often in the United States (17.46 FMP) followed by Canada (1.15 FPM), Norway (.28 FPM), the UK (.11 FPM) and Germany (.07 FPM). The top regions for Burlingame are all in the United States: Washington (50.7 FPM), Massachusetts (37.54), Iowa (37.25), Delaware (36.43), Minnesota (35.4), New York (35.3), Oregon (32.65), Montana (30.11), Idaho (29.19) and Missouri (28.32 FPM).  Top cities for Burlingame are all in the United States except one: Glasgow, Scotland.  The top five U.S. cities are: Carlton, Massachusetts, Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rhodes, Michigan.

[Statistics from Worldnames Public Profiler are based on information from phone directories, national election registers between the years 2000-2005. The statistics include 300 million people in 26 countries.]

According to US Census Records between 1850 and 1940, the Burlingame spelling has consistently exceeded the Burlingham spelling:

Census Year: Burlingham Burlingame

1940                  633             2272

1930                  653             2675

1920                  712             2592

1910                  703             2454

1900                  697             2392

1880                  510             1976

1870                  573             1775

1860                  584             1527

1850                  542             1325

Note: this research was with the search set for "exact" spelling. Source: