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BURNS Family History

Ó Birn, Ó Beirn - anglicised as (O) Beirne, Byrne, Byrnes and Burns, even occasionally Byron. The root is descendant of Bjorn, recté Björn, an Old Norse name meaning 'bear'. A branch of the Siol-Muireadhaigh or Silmurray, and descended from Muireadhaich Muilleathan, king of Connacht circa AD 700. They were kin to the O Connors, MacDermotts and MacDonaghs. The sept anciently held lands in what later became Co Roscommon at Tír Bhriuin, where they became chiefs in the 13th century. Another entirely distinct family held land at Ballinrobe in Mayo. These were of a different root, the Uí Fiachrach, descendants of Fiachra, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages, circa 4th century, founder of the great royal Uí Néill dynasty.

Mac Conboirne - anglicised as Burns, earlier M'Conborney. Woulfe gives the root as 'Cu-Boirean', hound of Boirean, a territorial name (i.e. the Burren in Clare): v. 'Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall', 1923. O' Donovan, the antiquary, found it still extant in the 19th century as Burns. The family were of the Uí Fiachrach in Mayo.

Ó Bioráin - anglicised as Birrane, Byron, Byrne, Burns &c., The root is personal name Biorán, with perhaps the meaning of 'stripling'. Woulfe (op.cit.) specifies Tipperary and East Limerick as the homeland of this name. There is also a Kerry surname, Ó Bioráinn.

Ó Conboirne, Ó Boirne - anglicised as Byrne and Burns. The root is the same as (2), 'Cu-Boirean'. The name was found still in Mayo by the antiquary, O'Donovan, under the disguise of Burns. Woulfe treats this as a variant of (2).

Ó Broin - anglicised as (O) Byrne, Byrnes, Burns and even Byron. The root is generally regarded as 'brán', raven. This is the great clan of counties Kildare and Wicklow, originally of the Uí Faolain, and descendants of Cathaoir Mór, the legendary king of Ireland. The leading O Byrnes were driven from their Kildare possessions by the Normans, but began a long struggle with the invaders from their acquired territory in the Wicklow Mountains. For this name see the Byrne Page.

Burns is also a Scottish import, numerous in Ulster, which itself is either a topographical name from 'burn', Middle English and Scots for stream, or from Burnhouse, shortened to Burness, Burn(e)s, from a village in Ayreshire.

In the 1659 'Census' of William Petty, Commonwealth surveyor in Ireland, we find listed as a 'Principal Irish Name' the following:

Co Roscommon
Roscommon Barony, O Beirne 24 ( all figures=families); Ballintobber, O Beirne 57, also two listed as 'gentlemen/tituladoes', Donnogh Beirn and William O'Birne in Kilmore; Boyle, O Beirne & O Birne 35; Athlone (barony), Bryan 11, and Birne 18.
Co Mayo is missing from the 'Census'.

Co Clare, Burren, Bryen 7 (however, this could also be O Brien).

Co Limerick, Small County, O Bryne, with 15 families, is listed separately from O Bryen & McBryen; Costlea, again O Bryne & McBryne is listed separately from O Bryen, with 10; the same in Clanwilliam Barony, O Bryne and O Bryan are listed separately, the former with 8; Connologh, O Bryne & McBryne 39; Poble Bryen Barony, O Bryne & McBryne are listed with 8, however, these may very well be O Brien. From these Limerick figures one may see the complexity and unreliability of !7th century orthography of Irish names which arose from the complex linguistic situation at the time: viz. English officials, Irish language names, variant dialects and so on.

Co Tipperary
Middlethird, Burren with 6 families. There are many Bryen & Bryon etc across Tipperary, but these would seem to be O Brien, which as a Dalcassian name is, of course, most strongly represented in Tipperary, Limerick, Clare etc. (v. note on Limerick).

By the mid 19th century Griffith's 'Primary Valuation' of Irish households, most Burns families are in counties Down 361, Antrim 77 + Belfast 88, Armagh 125, Tipperary 104, Limerick 96 and Cork 92.

From this may be seen that Burns as such divides into two groups: the northern group which most probably represents the Scottish settler name, though not in all cases; and the southern group which would represent, in most cases, one of the Gaelic patronymics listed above. In the latter group the spelling 'Burns' is of comparatively late appearance in the process of anglicisation.

This picture is reinforced by the birth registration figures for 1890, published in R.E. Matheson's 'Special Report...' of 1894 and 1909, where most occurrences of Burns fall into two distinct groups: 1) Antrim, Down, Armagh; 2) Clare, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary.

A Couple of Burns:

Patrick Burns (1856-1937) Canadian rancher, born in Ontario. His parents emigrated from Ireland. The family name was originally O' Byrne, shortened to Byrne and finally to Burns. Patrick had little formal schooling, but was a canny dealer in cattle and became a rancher and meat dealer on a truly enormous scale. He also acted as a railway construction contractor, and was active in the development of Canada's rail system.

The Burns Sisters, Marie, Annie and Jeannie, are an American folk group active in recent years. They belong to an Irish Catholic New York family. Their father, John J.Burns, was a former mayor of Binghampton, and ran the Robert Kennedy campaign for the Presidency in New York state. Among their greatest albums one would include 'Endangered Species' (1986), 'Songs of the Heart' (1993) and the most recent, 'Hills of Ithaca' (2012).

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    Hello readers,

    Introducing myself, a member of an American-based Burns family branch, from the Kankakee-Bourbonnais, Illinois area. Our grandfather, James T. Burns,born 1873 in Ireland, and his other 4 siblings, immigrated with his parents to the area in 1877. James T. Burns had been an aide de camp of Gen. Pershing, since the early campaigns, alongside Col. Robert Mc Cormick, the Chicago Tribune newspaper heir, at Cantigny, the main WWI headquarters, also present at the signing of the WWI armistices. He was a judge in Chicago and in later life, a House Representative, also speaking in Wahington to represent military men. He died during his campaign for Lieut. Governor of Illinois on Nov.15th, 1937

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    My great grandmother Anna had a maiden name of Burns. Family DNA is strongly Scottish. She came over from Ireland in the late 1800s or so and met and married my grandfather with the last name of Schroeder in Pennsylvania. She had an Irish brogue I'm told and was said to have spoken of having three siblings: a Robert, a Katherine, and a Briget. Her mothers maiden name was Joyce. I figure her mom was Irish and father was Scottish? 
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    Robin Casey

    My grandmother, Sharkey, her mother was a McMillan, and her grandmother was a Burns. They were in Victoria Australia I believe. My grandmother, Sharkey moved to the USA and married a Tyson.
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    Michael Burns

    My GGGrandfather, John Burns married my GGGrandmother, Mary Ryan. They were both from Limerick and came to Norwich, Connecticut in the USA about 1860. Their first child was born and baptised in Norwich in 1861. His name was Thomas. They had a large family and most of them grew up working in the Cotton Mill in Norwich. I have learned quite a bit about the family in the United States but have not located information about John Burns or Mary Ryan or their families before they came to the USA. I would like to learn more about their family's history before John & Mary left Limerick.
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    Mary Margaret Burns

    My GGGrandfather, MICHAEL Byrnes/Burns, b. C. 1800 in Co. Kildare, m. Emily Fitzgerald, b. C. 1800, in Dublin. He and his wife first emigrated to Manchester, England, and gave birth to 2 daughters and 2 sons. One daughter, Mary, died young in Manchester and the second daughter, Emily, died on ship’s passage to the USA. Older son, John, and younger, Joseph, along with their parents reached the US. They emigrated to Jay Co., Indiana, USA, through port of New Orleans, Louisiana when, with their ship heading to Galveston, Texas had to make emergency landing due to heavy storm or hurricane, according to family oral history. They first farmed in Jay Co., Indiana. They then moved to Wells County, Indiana. John died a bachelor in the Civil War. Joseph married Anna McCaffrey, d. of James McCaffrey, of Co. Fermanagh, twin to John McCaffrey who emigrated to Miami Co.,Ohio. Joseph and Anna bore a large family. I descend from their son, Patrick Gratton, who married Clara Greenfield of Ohio. Their son, Patrick James, b,1916, m. Helen Margaret Baker, b. 1918. After which they moved to St. Joseph Co., Indiana. They bore 4 children, of whom 2 are deceased, Patricia and Patrick, and two are living.
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    Anthony Barrett

    (Part 1 of 3) The Burns name has a long history in Scotland, but now DNA and some recorded history says their origin is from the Emerald Island. The Burns story [dominated by DNA tribal marker R1b-L513, Subgroup B1] can trace their origins to the Finn Valley in Donegal, Ireland from 50 BCE. Perhaps the journey begins with the Clanna Dedad; Deda, son of Sen or Deda Mac Sin. The Burns surname origin is from Clan Domnaill [DNA Tribe R1b-L513, Subgroup B1] and relations who remain in Ireland take the modern surname (O’)Donnelly, McDonald and Donohue in Ireland.
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    Anthony Barrett

    (Part 2 of 3) According to research, the Domnaill name is also found in Brittany, France. It is a very old name which appears in the 5th century Roman inscriptions as Dumnovellaunos in Brittany meaning “Deep Valour” equivalent to Irish Domhnaill. But how could this be? Recent discoveries from DNA testing are unlocking the migration patterns of Celtic tribes as late as 800 CE to 1200 CE. The Burns story begins in pre-history Ireland then moves to Wales where the family can be traced back to their Welsh tribe Cydifor Fawr. An ancestor and many of his kin will then move to Brittany, France during the Dark Ages.
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    Anthony Barrett

    (Part 3 of 3) Discover their newly found untold story and how forgotten texts bring their story back to life. From the ebook, “The Tribe Within” learn how DNA unfolds this amazing tale and if you look in the right places, how history narrates this evidence. There is another written account of their story, but it is camouflaged in smoke and myth – it will become the tales of King Arthur. Come follow in the footsteps of Deda Mac Sin and visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/401207
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    Looking for my GGGrandfather Thomas Patrick Byrne born 1795 in WaterfordWexford.Migrated to Newfoundland in 1817.Married widow Ann Hemlow Mara in 1821 Halifax, Nova Scotia. Brother Patrick and John.
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