Updated: 13 May 2005



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The Burnham and Meddleton page

This page is for anyone looking for these family names on the Web. Burnham is my father's name, Meddleton my mother's maiden name.

Are you looking for family history? I don't take much interest in genealogy myself, so I have little to offer you. However, there are some snippets of information below. If you want to explore more family history and your roots are in this part of the world, start at the UK and Ireland Genealogy Index.

Are you looking for Burnhams or Meddletons on the Web? You can try the links below.


Burnham is an example of an English family name derived from an ancestor's place of origin. This type of surname is the most common in England. Other groups include names based on occupations (e.g., Taylor), kinship (e.g., Robinson), descriptions or nicknames (e.g., Redhead) and those from outside England (e.g., MacGregor from Scotland, Price from Wales, O'Hara from Ireland and Grosvenor from France).

There are many places called Burnham in England, including those in the counties of Somerset, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Norfolk and Lincolnshire. That means there were many chances to be called Burnham, and there must be many Burnhams who are not related to each other, even as far back as the 13th or 14th centuries.

Burnham is a fairly common name and is around the 2000th most common name in the USA.

One thing to remember is that when your ancestor first came to be called 'Burnham', he was almost certainly no longer living in Burnham. The additional name would not have distinguished him from other Johns or Williams if he had still been in his original home.

My own family seems to have been settled in the Bristol area, particularly the town of Kingswood, for several generations at least. One of them was the chairman of the then Kingswood Urban District Council (the equivalent of Mayor). I am the wanderer of the family, and moved out of the area. There are many Burnhams in the Bristol telephone directory, and I doubt if many are closely related. My family almost certainly takes its name from Burnham in Buckinghamshire.

Burnham is an Anglo-Saxon name. The reference books give several different derivations for the name, that may apply in different places:

burn + ham (long 'a', related to 'home') = 'the homestead by the burn (brook)'
burn + hamm (short 'a', related to 'hem') = 'the land along the edge of the burn'
burnum (dative plural of 'burn') = 'at the brooks'

According to one book the first is the most likely derivation in Norfolk, the second in Somerset and the third in Lincolnshire. Another reference gives as an alternative derivation in some cases 'brun' related to the word 'brown', so perhaps meaning the 'brown homestead'.

There are many Burnhams on the Internet, including quite a few Richard Burnhams, alive and dead. To find them, try Google or Zoominfo

There is a discussion forum for the Burnham name. You can probably find information there:http://genforum.genealogy.com/burnham/


Meddleton, unlike Burnham, is not a very common name. I guess that it is also an Anglo-Saxon place name and a variant of Middleton, the 'middle place'. (For a full explanation of the meanings of the common Anglo-Saxon 'tun' or 'ton', you'll have to find a scholarly work.) My grandfather came from Launceston, Cornwall. As far as I know, all Meddletons originate from the Cornwall/Devon border. There are Meddletons in Australia who came from Gunnislake, about twenty kilometres from Launceston.

Chris Meddleton (my cousin) maintains a web page on Meddletons: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/m/e/d/Chris-Meddleton/index.html


 Four generations 1950:
John Meddleton (d. 1954); John Stanley Meddleton (Stan) (d. 1974); Mary Burnham (nee Meddleton) (1923-); Richard Burnham (1948-)

 Four generations 1974:
Annie Henrietta Meddleton (Dolly, nee Petty) (d. 1984); John Stanley Meddleton (Stan) (d. 1974); Mary Burnham (nee Meddleton) (1923-); Richard Burnham (1948-); Robert Burnham (1972-)

There is now a new generation: Millicent (Millie) Burnham, born 25 August 2004.

Copyright © 1997-2005 Richard Burnham