The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names

The Burgums and the Burghams (& Brougham)

Published in Autumn/Fall 1996 and Winter 1996/97, this article appeared in Volumes 27 and 28 of the BFHS Journal.

Dick Burgham (member VV092) has recently written to me. You may remember his splendid article in Volume 10 (Summer 1992) of the Burgum Family History Society Journal. I entitled that article "The Mis-spelt Burgums" mainly to emphasis the point that BURGUM and BURGHAM have frequently been mis-spelt and, indeed, interchanged over the centuries. I certainly was not suggesting for a moment that Burgum was the correct spelling and that Burgham was incorrect! Anyway, Dick has found some Burghams in New Zealand and they clearly have their own idea where the name comes from. Dick has sent me copies of the data he received from New Zealand. It makes very interesting reading and I have reproduced a section of that material here. However, before you read it, I should like to offer the following "health warning"!

The article suggests that a connection exists between the name Brougham and the name Burgham; that may well be so. The information certainly warrants further investigation ! However, there are a number of questions that arise from the article. I shall leave these questions until the end but, until then, please keep an open mind.

The Brougham Family

(written by Major Arnison; extract, date unknown)
The family of Brougham is of Saxon descent, and derives its surname from Burgham, afterwards called Brougham, a parish in Westmorland, the ancient Brocavum, or Brovoniacum, of the Romans. In the Itinery of Antoninus, "Iter. V. a Londinis Luguvallium ad Vallium" (London to Carlisle), it is stated thus: "Verteris (Brough) ad Brocavo, M.P. XX. mihi quidem Brocavum esse Brougham". Camden, in his Britannia (Edit: 1600, p.689), says "Eden runs along not far from Howgill, a castle of the Sandfords; but the Roman military way passes directly through Whinfell, a large park, thick set with trees, to Brovoniacum, twenty Italian miles, but seventeen English, from Verterae, as Antoninus has fixed it; he calls it also Brocovum, as the Notitia Broconiacum, from which we understand the company of Defensores had their abode here.

Though age has consumed both its buildings and splendour, the name is preserved whereof has been further confirmed of late years by the discovery of Roman coins, alters, and other testimonies." The ancient line of the Broughams is likewise alluded to by Hutchinson, in his History of Cumberland. Thomas Burgham, lord of Burgham 1553, married Jane, daughter and heiress of John Vaux, of Catterlen and Tryermane, and had two sons, viz., 1, Henry Burgham; 2, Peter Burgham, of whom presently. The elder son, Henry Burgham, was lord of Burgham in the reign of Elizabeth, as appears by a grant, signed "Henricus Burgham," and sealed with the seal of his arms.

This Henry married Catherine Neville, daughter and heir of Sir Ralph Neville, of Thorton Biggs, county of York, and widow of Sir Walter Strickland, Knt, as appears by a fine levied by her in the 18th Henry VIII. He was succeeded by his son and heir, Thomas, who was in the commission of the peace for the county of Cumberland; he died sine proles in 1607, as appears by a deed dated 29th March 1608, reciting that Elizabeth, Margaret, and Katherine, being the sisters and c-heirs of the said Thomas Burgham, did, for the consideration therein mentioned, demise unto the said Agnes, his widow, all that the manor, capital messuage, and demesne lands called Brougham Hall, with the appurtenances, to hold to Agnes and her assigns during her life, &c.

(Picture below - Brougham Hall in 1832) Broughamhall1
Peter Brougham, of Blackhall, in the county Cumberland, uncle and heir of the last mentioned Thomas, married Anne, daughter and heiress of John Southaic, of Scales Hall, in Cumberland, and thus acquired that estate. he died in 1570, and was succeeded by his son, Henry Brougham.

The Article continues with a description of the family line. Henry Brougham first married Jane Wharton, then Catherine Fallowhall, dying in 1622, to be succeeded by his son Thomas Brougham. Through the generations, the lineage continues to be described, up to Henry Brougham (1778-1868). This man was born and educated in Edinburgh and was eventually appointed Attorney-General to Queen Caroline in 1820. He became an MP and then served as Lord Chancellor between 1830-1834, as Baron Brougham and Vaux, of Brougham. He was succeeded to his title by his brother William when he died at Cannes in 1868.

(picture right - Brougham Hall in 2004)
Brougham Hall - geograph.org.uk - 1532

So what does this mean?

This is a fascinating genealogy, but there are a number of questions raised here. First of all, one would have to authenticate this as an accurate history. I do not yet know when this was written, or who Major Arnison is, but let us assume for a moment that the family history is correct. First of all, I am uncomfortable with the transition from Burgham to Brougham, both as a surname and as a place name. Thomas Burgham died in 1607 and was succeeded by his uncle, Peter Brougham. Is this actually corruption or mis-spelling of Burgham?

Thomas Burgham's father and grandfather were both described as lord of Burgham and the family had a coat of arms. Thomas was also described as being in the "commission of the peace of Cumberland". Is it likely that the name of a proud "lord of the manor" family would be so readily corrupted or mis-spelt? It would also appear that, at his death, Thomas Burgham was living in Brougham Hall. Is there any evidence to suggest the name of the village was ever Burgham? Or had the name always been Brougham, from "the ancient Brocavum"? It is certainly worth a bit of research!

We know that by the 1500's, the Burgums and Burghams were established in the Forest of Dean. It would be romantic to suggest that these were, perhaps, a section of the above family, drifted or outcast from the village of Brougham (or Burgham?) in Cumberland. However, there is no evidence for it. The name, itself, is not evidence enough. Remember there is a town in Friesland, in the Netherlands, called Burgum and there is no evidence there of a family connection. It seems to be a coincidence. We already know that there is strong evidence that the Burgums and the Burghams are historically related. The names interchanged frequently in history and, of course, most of us see our name mis-spelt even today on a regular basis.

I am not saying that we (the Burghams or the Burgums) are not connected to the Burgham/Brougham family. I am simply saying be careful! It could be a coincidence. The word burgum appears to have had a meaning in Saxon times - it describes part of the ramparts of a castle. It, therefore, follows that families from separate sources could have adopted the same name. Is there a connection? I don't know. This does not diminish my belief that most of the Burgum/Burgham families are likely to be related and came from the Forest of Dean. Every Burgum family I have successfully researched (to before the 1700's) appears to confirm this.

Interestingly Dick's contact in New Zealand, Neil Burgham, tells us something about his own family. His grandparents, George William Burgham and Georgina Preston were married at Bilston in 1881 and probably born in the Bilston or Kidderminster areas in 1855 and 1860 respectively. My records indicate a number of Burgums living in Bilston in the 1800's. These may well be related to the Burgums who lived in Birmingham and Aston on family trees BB, JJ, or QQ. Henry Burgum , the pewterer, owned a farm and ironworks at Shelsley, about ten miles south-west of Kidderminster in the 1770's.

Records indicate that Henry Burgham of Feckenham (ten miles south-east of Kidderminster) married Matha Richards at Aston. Henry is, in fact, Henry Burgum of the FF family tree whose son, Arthur Avery Burgum, owned Mathews' Farm at Kempley. There are also records of Burgin and Burgwin at Kidderminster, so take your choice! It seems much more likely to me that the New Zealand Burghams are related to one or more of the above families, which again increases the likelihood that their roots are from the Forest. You can make up your own mind but, if you are wise, you will keep an open mind and wait until research reveals the truth.

*    *    *

The story continued in volume 28 of the BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Journal; Winter 1996/97.

BROUGHAM - the story continues!

In the last edition of the Burgum Family History Society Journal, you may have read about the Brougham family and their possible link to the Burghams/Burgums. This possible link to our distant past should be of interest to us all, whether the current spelling of our name is Burgham or Burgum. There is, in fact, a Brougham One-Name Society and I have been in contact with Peter Wyly who runs it. He has studied carefully the metathesis (the transition of sounds!) between Burgham and Brougham and sees no evidence of a connection between the two families.

There are no Burghams in that area in the old parish records, nor is there one known case of the name Brougham reverting back to the original spelling. (This is significant. In the case of our surname, it was common for it to change spelling backwards and forwards between Burgum and Burgham several times, before stabilising one way or the other). Mr Wyly goes on to say that the "Arnison article is about as bogus as they come". (Extractions from this article appeared in the last edition of the journal). Arnison repeated what others had written and "someone in the Brougham family was a pathological liar". Mr Wyly goes on to say that "others, including Burke and the College of Arms, were pathetic copyists". Peter Wyly has also very kindly sent me the first chapter of his Brougham History. In an introduction, I discovered that his experiences in researching the Brougham family were largely similar to my own. Complex spelling variations, lost or omitted records, myths and legends; it all sounds strangely familiar!

I have, of course, replied to Mr Wyly. As you will have read in the last Burgum Family History Society Journal, my own conclusions are that there is little evidence to support a possible connection. However, in my letter to him, I stated that "having said that, I cannot reject the possibility out of hand. However unlikely, I shall keep the possibility in mind when I carry out further research". Peter Wyly stated that he does "not hold out much hope of connecting Burgum to Brougham". However, he has assured me that he will keep his eyes open for a possible link during future research. We wish him well in his research. As for me, I shall investigate the Burghams in New Zealand and see where their real roots might be. I shall, of course, continue my other researches and find those elusive clues that will link our family trees together. I shall try and flesh out those family trees. I shall continue the search backwards and seek more clues to our past.