This interesting surname of some antiquity, with variant spellings Burden, Burdon, Burdoun, Bourdon, Berden, Berdin etc., has three distinct possible origins, the first being a diminutive of the Old Norman French personal byname Burdo, ultimately from the Latin "burdo", a mule, and originally given as a nickname to a packcarrier or perhaps to someone "as strong as a mule". The second possibility is that the name derives from the Medieval English and Old French "bourdon", a pilgrim's staff, and originated as a nickname for a pilgrim, or one who carried a pilgrim's staff.A rare example of the personal name in England is the entry of one, Hamo filius (son of) Burdon in the 1166 "Red Book of the Exchequer", Norfolk. Finally, the name may be locational from Great Burdon, (Durham), or from Burden near Harewood, (Yorkshire West Riding) -both so named from the Old English "burh", fortress, plus "dun", a hill. One, Zacharias de Burdun was noted in the 1217, Feet of Fines for Durham. On March 15th 1636, John, son of Nathaniell Birden, was christened in All Hallows, London Wall, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Arlfsige Burden, which was dated 968, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Kent, during the reign of King Edgar, "The Saxon", 959 - 975. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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