Research Report on the Possible Relationship of the
de Burgh and de Brus Families of England and Ireland
BFO Research Committee Member
purpose of this research report is not to conclusively determine that
the various de Burgh and, perhaps, de Brus family lines are genealogically
connected, but rather to raise for consideration the social and kinship
interconnections between those families with a view to informing further
The guiding principle behind this report
is that enunciated in the doctoral thesis by Vanessa Traill of the University
of Glasgow in May 2013, viz, the analysis of the Anglo-Norman social networks
in, broadly, the 11th and 12th centuries (1), although this report
does not purport to deal with such networks in anything like the detail
of a doctoral thesis.
As can be understood from the Brough Family
Organization (BFO) website, there are a number of de Burgh/Burke/Borough/Brough
families in what are now the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Separately, this report will deal briefly with the de Brus pedigree in
northern England and Scotland and the extent to which it indicates some
form of kin-group with the de Burgh lines.
The principal de Burgh families appear to
be as follows:
1. the pedigree set out as that of the Early
Broughs of Staffordshire, 1055 to 1510, on the BFO website, commencing
in about 1055 with Ralph de Limesi (2);
2. that of the Burghs and Broughs of Westmorland
and Yorkshire (and later Lincolnshire), also on the BFO website, commencing
in about 1182 with John de Burgh (3) but originating with the Gernet
family at an earlier date;
3. that of the de Burghs of Burrough Green
in Cambridgeshire, commencing in about 1086 with Thomas de Burgh (4);
4. that of the de Burgh/Burke/Bourke line
in England and Ireland, commencing in about 1160 with William de Burgh,
but originating prior to that date, arguably with Walter de Burgh of Burgh
Castle, Norfolk (5).
The de Brus pedigree for northern
England and Scotland commences with Robert de Brus I (6) in about
1078 and divides into the Scots (Annandale) and English (Skelton) lines.
For the purposes of this report, the interest is primarily with the Pickering
branch (Pickering is about 28 miles from Skelton) (7).
THE de LIMESI (STAFFORDSHIRE) AND GERNET (WESTMORLAND) LINES
The de Limesi pedigree is exhaustively presented
on the BFO website as previously referenced. However, in a 1917 publication
titled "The Lindesie and Limesi Families of Great Britain" privately
published by John William Linzee and purporting to deal with all members
of those families to that date (8) (and also referred to on the
BFO page "Possible Ancestry of Ralph de Limesi"), the author
proposes that both Ralph and Robert de Limesi were sons of one Hugo de
Limesi (9). At page 200 of that publication there is a discussion
of the identity of one Robert de Stafford, a de Limesi nephew.
The doctoral thesis by Vanessa Traill previously
cited contains genealogical charts for the various families with which
that work is concerned, including that for the Tosny kin-group (10),
which includes both the Limesi and Stafford lines. In that chart Robert
de Stafford is shown as marrying Avice de Clare, and their son, Nicholas,
as marrying Matilda, daughter of Ralph 1 de Limesi.
If the 1917 publication is accurate to the
effect that Robert and Ralph were brothers, it may be that Robert de Limesi,
as the Bishop of Chester (and even though clerical celibacy was not uniformly
observed at that date), is not the father of the de Limesi who was in
turn the father of Phillip de Burgo and instead the father of Phillip
was another son of Nicholas de Stafford, son-in-law of Ralph, who took
his mother's name of de Limesi - which in itself was not unusual in the
As to how the family adopted the name de
Burgo, it appears that the name may have come from the town of Peterborough
in Cambridgeshire, where the abbey was known as Burgo Sancti Petri (11).
In 1107 one Nigel d'Aubigny, a Norman knight,
married Matilda de L'aigle, who had divorced the disgraced and imprisoned
Robert de Mowbray. When Nigel subsequently divorced Matilda, he retained
her ex-husband's lordship of Mowbray and when he subsequently married
Gundred de Gournay, their son Roger took the surname of Mowbray (12).
It will be evident that the William d'Aubigny,
brother of Nigel, referred to in the material in footnote 11 is identical
with the person of that name in the Tosnys of Belvoir pedigree in the
Traill thesis and thus the d'Aubigny/Mowbray family forms part of the
What is striking is that the surname "Gournay"
could conceivably be spelt "Gernet" if the latter were pronounced
in the French manner. An online trawl discloses that others have made
the same connection - if, indeed, a connection it is. What also stands
out is that the Mowbray arms included a lion rampant, as did, apparently,
the arms of the Gernet family. For the latter assertion see an online
publication titled "The Hissem-Montague Family" (13).
Interestingly, the de Burghs of Gainsborough
(via Westmorland and Yorkshire) continued to incorporate a lion rampant
in their arms some centuries later (14).
The pedigree of the Westmorland and Yorkshire
de Burgh/Borough/Brough families is set out on the BFO website.
Although these are no more than tantalising
leads, it might be reasonable to draw the conclusion that, at the least,
there exists the possibility of a connection between the Gournay/Mowbray
and Gernet, not to mention Limesi and Burgo, families,. The existence
of such a connection involving the Gernets, and their descendants including
the Westmorland and Yorkshire Burghs, would go some way towards explaining
the positions and marriages achieved by both Hugh Burgh of Salop and Thomas
de Burgh of Gainsborough many generations later, as it would the appointment
of the Gernets of Westmorland as royal foresters.
Various entries on the web also indiscriminately
shift between "Gernet", "Gournay" and "Gernon",
raising the possibility that the benefactors of Dieulacres abbey (which
is near Leek in Staffordshire and where Robert Burgh was forester in 1538
(15) ) were part of the same family. There is some academic support
for the suggestion that the Staffordshire Burgh line has a connection
with the Westmorland Burghs through the Gernet family (16) .
If the Mowbrays were kin of the Gernet family,
it is unsurprising that the latter were associated with Cistercian institutions,
most particularly Dieulacres - and more so if the de Gernons were part
of the same family. That abbey was initially established at Poulton in
Cheshire in about 1153, moving to the site near Leek, Staffordshire, in
1214, but had an early landholding in Westmorland, at Rossall, some 40
miles from Burrow with Burrow where the Burgh families are found in the
13th Century, and it might be that the Burghs farmed the Rossall grange
on behalf of the abbey.
The conclusion that could be tentatively
drawn from this is that, assuming the Gernets were related to the Mowbrays
and thus to the Staffordshire Limesi/ Burgo line, the Burghs of Westmorland
followed Dieulacres Abbey to Leek at some time prior to their appearance
in the record around the time of the Dissolution and that the ancient
connection between the families led to intermarriage and consolidation
into one family group. Support for this could be found in the arms of
the Staffordshire Burghs, as referenced in the BFO report on the "Possible
Relationship of the Burghs of Westmorland, England and the Broughs of
Staffordshire, England", and as to which more later in this report.
It could be, as Anne Brough Hind has noted
in a slightly different context, that the plagues around 1348 and in subsequent
years and other natural disasters of that time provide the explanation
for the demise or diminution of the earlier family, as well as the movement
of the Westmorland Burghs to Staffordshire.
THE BURROUGH GREEN LINE
As stated above, the de Burghs of Burrough
Green in Cambridgeshire are first identified in that place through Thomas
de Burgh, born in 1086. The manor descended in the de Burgh family for
some 200 years (17).
Based on the pedigree of the early Broughs
of Staffordshire on the BFO website, and the likelihood that that Burgh
family originated in Cambridgeshire, it seems that the Thomas de Burgh
born in 1086 would be the person shown as the son of Robert de Limesi
(or, as proposed above, of Nicholas de Stafford) and his son Philip is
in turn the Philip fitz Bishop/de Burgo in the BFO pedigree.
A later Philip (died in 1235) married Maud,
the daughter of Torfin, the heir of the Manfield fee. This Torfin was
variously known as Manfield, Brough (or Burc or Burgo) and Watheby (18).
The coincidence of the second surname is nowhere explained, but Watheby
(Waitby) is in Westmorland, now Cumbria, about 6 miles from Brough, while
Manfield is about 32 miles on the other side.
This Burrough Green family also held considerable
estates in Yorkshire, including the manors of Hackforth, Aysgarth and
Great Langton (19). That the family in the 13th century also bore
the "swan" arms of some of the coeval Westmorland and Catterick
Burghs indicates a connection between those families, perhaps via Maud
the daughter of Torfin, and since there would appear to be an established
connection with the Staffordshire Burghs could well also explain the same
arms being claimed in that case.
As discussed above the Westmorland Burghs
descend from the Gernet line and further research may establish any connection
between the Gernets and the lords of Manfield beyond Maud's marriage to
Philip. That the two families were present in the same area is shown in
the British History Online entry for Casterton, in the Barony of Kendale
(20), where John Gernet is recorded as alienating a portion of
the lands which descended through Torfin's daughter Matilda/Maud (and
note the descent for the manor of Casterton, which apparently incorrectly
records one Hugh de Burgh as a husband of Matilda, rather than Philip).
THE de BURGHS OF IRELAND
As noted above, the origins of this family
are obscure but appear to be in Norfolk. The subsequent history of the
family in Ireland does not obviously link it to any of the families discussed
above. The Vatican Archives offer up the papers of March 1574 which ascribe
the origins of the Irish de Burghs to France (21). That this is
largely unhelpful, given the origins of the majority of the Norman families,
requires no further comment.
It is completely speculative, but the coincidence
of the surname de Burgo/Burgh arising around the end of the 11th century
and the distance between Burgh in Norfolk and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire
being about 80 miles raises the possibility that the two families are
indeed connected, reinforced perhaps by common patronymics such as Thomas,
Robert, William and John.
Notwithstanding the statement in the first
paragraph above, it appears that Richard Mor de Burgh prior to 1243 married
(perhaps as well as two other women), the daughter of Robert de Gournay,
Hodierna de Gournay, sometimes spelt de Gernon (22), which for
the reasons expounded earlier, may evidence a connection with the Gernet
family of Westmorland.
To continue with kin-group speculation,
it should be noted in the British History Online material for Burgh cited
at footnote 5 above, that the Bigot/Bigod family were seated at Burgh
Hall, and that this family also appears in Ms Traill's thesis in the Tosny
pedigree referred to above.
Further research may establish whether it
is a fact, but the Burgh family or families so often appear in an area
containing the name "Burgh" or some variation of it, that the
conclusion could be drawn that the location has been named after the family,
rather than the other way around. The identification of the Irish de Burgh
origins with Burgh in Norfolk may be an example of that phenomenon.
THE de BRUS LINE
That the de Brus pedigree includes King
Robert of Scotland is well known, but less often remarked upon is the
connection that the family had with the north of England (23).
The family and its fortunes are documented in the book and thesis by Ruth
Blakely referenced at footnote 6 and among their principal holdings in
the north was Skelton Castle (24).
Although there appears to be no recorded
connection with the Mowbray or Gernet families, it is of interest that
the Brus arms of a lion rampant are so similar to the arms of those two
families. There is, however, one obvious connection between the Brus and
Burgh families, in that King Robert married Elizabeth de Burgh (25),
daughter of Richard Og de Burgh of Ireland (26).
Two locations where both the Burgh family
(or other related families - see below) and the Brus family can be found
are at Pickering and Crambe, respectively about 28 and 15 miles from Skelton.
For a detailed examination of the Brus family in and around Pickering,
see a blog by John Watson (27). The reference in the body of that
material, around footnote 33, to Alexander de Bergh is doubtless a reference
to a relative of King Robert's wife, Elizabeth.
William Borough of Catterick, born around
1395 married Elena Pyckerynge (Pickering). Also, William's father, Willielmus
Borough of Catterick, born around 1371, married Matildam Lascelles.
While Borough names do not occur in the
BHO entry for Pickering, Pickering and Lascelles names do - see under
The BHO entry for nearby Crambe (29)
also contains references to the Brus and Pickering families (and note
the Pickering arms which could be seen to also derive from the Mowbray/Gernet
arms and which are very similar to those of the Brus family) - see in
the body of the entry around footnote 110.
Turning to the BHO entry for Fingall (30),
in the body of the entry at footnote 49 is a reference to Picot de Lascelles
and at footnote 50 to Thomas de Burgh. This establishes that they are
brothers-in-law, probably at some date around 1152. This Thomas is of
the family found in Burrough Green referred to earlier in this report:
While no definitive connection can be made,
the recurring patronymics such as William, Robert, Richard and Adam in
both the Brus and Burgh families might indicate a kin-group connection,
perhaps through the Pickering (31) or Lascelles (32) families.
Also worthy of consideration is whether at some date one or other family
adopted the name of the other, more dominant family, a not uncommon occurrence
in medieval England and which also occurred at least once in the Burgh
line when Richard de Richmond married Elizabeth Borough in about 1346
and adopted the Borough name.
But see also http://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp152-156
For a discussion on the origins of "Burgh":
about ¾ of the way through.
(6) See Ruth Blakely, Boydell Press 2005. A preview is available
and see that author's Durham e-thesis - http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1594
(7) Blog by John Watson: http://johnmwatson.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/brus-of-pickering.html
(8) John William Linzee, 1917:
(9) Ibid https://archive.org/stream/linzeefamilyofgr01linz#page/190/mode/2up
(10) Op cit page xv ff
see footnote 1 and see further
and also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Mowbray
While this publication seems to have no academic authority, and is both
hard to follow and seemingly haphazard, to the extent that I have cross-referenced
it, the statements made appear to be correct.
(14) For an explanation of the lion rampant arms, see https://books.google.com.au/books?id=KAARAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA742&lpg=PA742&dq=
at page 746.
- see under "Forest and warren".
(16) The following has the imprint of the University of Sheffield
and the following page - http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/normans/family.jsp?searchID=1722
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol6/pp141-147 - see under
"Manors and Other Estates".
(18) Early Yorkshire Charters, Vol 5 P55ff -
and British History Online -
and also http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/north/vol1/pp184-186
see No 293, paragraph beginning "This castle of Allon
(22) The Ancestry of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, George
Russell French 1841 -
thesis op cit P153, fn 51 and Pp 212-212, fn 32