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

The "Alternative" Burghams

The most common alternative spelling of the name BURGUM is BURGHAM. During my research into the Burgum family history, the spellings BURGUM and BURGHAM have been virtually interchangeable. Only in the later generations have the spellings stabilised to one version or the other. THe following article was written by Dick Burgham and published in volume 10 of the BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Journal in 1992.

In researching my ancestry, I have come across the change from Burgum to Burgham in two families of the 1800's, although this spelling does appear in the 1700's. But what really brought these mis-spellings home to me was the need to prepare the Burgham family tree as a wedding gift for my son, Richard. After all it was Richard who first started me on my way in tracking down my ancestors by remarking during a family discussion that he knew very little about the family's history. At that time I could not tell him very much, so I said to myself that something had to be done and, being retired, I had the time! It was when setting about finalising the details of the Burgham family tree that I realised just how confusing the mix up over the spelling of our name had been down the years. For simplicity, when creating my family tree, I standardised the spelling to BURGHAM although in reality the surnames of my ancestors tended to jump about greatly.

William, as the most popular christian name for males, certainly took me up the "wrong tree" when I first started my research. My grandfather William was born on 25th March 1843 and worked as a moulder in the iron industry, as did another William born 11th April 1843, the son of Thomas Burgham, iron founder of Upper Redbrook. Being very 'green' as a starter I spent some twelve months over this family before realising that facts and dates were not working out. For instance, on going through the marriage records of Lydney Church (now in the possession of the Gloucester Records Office) I came across the marriage of William Burgham, son of Thomas Burgham, iron founder, to Eliza Maria Saunders of Lydney, daughter of John Saunders, farmer. I already knew that my William married Jane Wildin of Bream but at this time had not found out where, but eventually found that they had married in the Baptist Church, in Lydney.

The William Burgham of Upper Redbrook worked at this time as a clerk at Lydney Docks eventually returning to Upper Redbrook to join his father. My Wiliam, however, always worked in the iron industry. This concluded my Upper Redbrook detour. I do not regret my error or consider the time wasted for it proved to be a very industrious family living in the period when Upper Redbrook was a hive of industry, with four mills, iron smelting, iron foundry, tinplate works, two breweries and also 'stampers' which crushed blast furnace scruff that was dispatched to Bristol for bottle-glass making. Indeed Thomas Burgham at one time owned the foundry, stampers and one brewery. He was married twice, the first time on 21st July 1816 as BURGUM but his children were baptised as BURGUM or BURGAM. For the second marriage on 11th January 1836 he suddenly became a BURGHAM with four children from this marriage being baptised under this spelling. The 1841 census shows the spelling as BURGHAM.

During my research I also had the pleasure of contacting a great-great-granddaughter (now deceased) who lived with her son in Norwich; also a great-great-grandson living in Cwmbran who were greatly impressed with the knowledge that I was able to pass on to them. To date I have not been able to establish any connection with my own family, but who knows what might turn up, or was it just coincidence for the name to change to BURGHAM around the same period?

My grandfather William, born 25th March 1843 in Lydney, Gloucestershire, was the son of Richard Burgham, baptised 1819, and married Elizabeth Pugh in the parish of St Briavels, Gloucestershire, (his first marriage) 25th December 1840 as BURGHAM and lived at Middle Forge, Lydney. My great-grandfather Richard was the eldest son of my great-great-grandfather William BURGHAM who married Hannah Kenrick on 16th January 1817 at Lydney. There were seven children from this marriage, the spelling again varying between BURGUM and BURGHAM at baptism. Great-great-grandfather William was born or baptised in 1789 according to his age on the tombstone in Lydney churchyard. They also lived at Middle Forge in the next cottage to Richard and his wife. The census of 1881 shows Richard and second wife plus other members of both families still living at Middle Forge.

This is as far back as I can go with certainty but I am provisionally adopting from my records of Littledean, Gloucestershire, William BURGAM and Ann (surname unknown), son William baptised 3rd June 1789, daughters Elizabeth (9th January 1792) and Mary (6th December 1795) on the premise of the spelling of BURGAM and the baptism date of son William the nearest found to date which coincides with the age on the tombstone. Hopefully, I shall find the marriage of William and Ann, where they came from and what happened after the baptism of Mary in 1795 from further research at the Gloucester Records Office. (Richard has made several assumptions here which I comment on later in the article -Doug.)

Times in the Forest of Dean appear to have been very hard - the inhabitants living under great hardships, as is brilliantly researched and told by Ralph Anstis in his book 'Warren James and the Dean Forest Riots'; the riots took place in 1831, the period during which my ancestors lived and died, some of them at a very young age of infancy evidently due to the conditions of the period. It seems there are five generations of iron and steel workers in the family, my son Richard breaking the line. To think that the family lived through the making of iron and steel from charcoal, the water wheel and hard slog, to today's computer controlled, push button technology. The wealth of information I have uncovered quite amazes me and this is only one side of my family. My maternal research will take me from Lydney to Shipham in Somerset - did I say that I had the time!

Note from Doug - Dick was searching for his Great-great-grandfather William, who was born or baptised in 1789 according to his age on the tombstone in Lydney churchyard. He suggests that William Burgum, christened at Littledean on 3rd June 1789 might well be a possible candidate. However, according to my records, this particular William married Elizabeth Brain in 1819, worked as a nailer and was buried at Littledean 10th March 1867. The 1841 census appears to confirm this. His grandson was Timothy Burgum who, together with his family, emigrated to Queensland, Australia. His descendants are members of the "RR" family tree.

Having written the main article, Dick then added the following...

The Welsh Connection
Grandfather William and his family, with the exception of Diana Elizabeth and Edward Wildin Burgham (who was serving in the Boer War), moved to Llanelly in South Wales when Richard Thomas purchased the Moorwoods Works. A tragic boating accident occurred during the evening of May 27th 1902, when Albert William Webb aged 30 years old, husband of my aunt Sarah Jane, and Edward Wildin Burgham aged 20 years old, who had only recently been discharged from service in the Boer War after some eighteen months and on a visit to his parents, were both drowned. My grandparents and Sarah Jane Webb returned to Lydney on retirement, but the two remaining sons put roots down in Llanelly and brought up their families there, the sons following the family tradition of working in the Steel industry. I was transferred to Ebbw Vale in October 1938 when the first Strip Mill in Europe was commissioned and retired in November 1977 ending the Steel line in the family. I made my home in Abergavenny. My grandparents William and Jane, Sarah Webb and her husband, also Edward Wildin Burgham are buried together in St Mary's churchyard, Lydney Glocestershire.