Recorded in many forms including Burke, Bourke, Burgh (English & Irish), Bourg, Bourge, Bourcq, Bourq, Leborg, Dubourg, Delbourg, (France), Burgo, Borgo and Dal Borgo (Italy), Burgos (Spain), Van den Burgh (Dutch) as well as many others, this is a topographical surname of pre 5th century Germanic origins. It derives from the word "burg" meaning a fortification, and describes one who lived at or possibly was owner of the estate. It is often confused and intermixed with the Old French word and later surname "burgeis" meaning a freeman of a fortified town, and found in the surnames Bourges, Bourgaize, Bourgeois, Burgess, Burges and Burgis. The surname is well recorded from the Norman Invasion of 1066, one of the most important early examples being that of William de Burgo, a Norman knight who was granted great estates in Ireland after the invasion of that country in 1170 by King Henry 11nd of England. The earliest recordings are from England because that country was the first to adopt both hereditary surnames and to make the necessary charters and registers in which to record them. France lost most of her early records during the Revolution of 1792, and Italy which for over a thousand years did not exist as a unified country until 1860, had no central recording in most of the states. Early recordings showing the influence of the Norman-French in England after the Invasion of 1066 include: Ailricus de Burk in the Domesday Book for Suffolk in 1086, Ralph de Burc of Norfolk in 1177, whilst in France random recordings from later times include those of Antoine Bourg, who married Antoinette Landry at Martaize, Vienne, in 1609, Jean Baptiste Bourge, a witness at St Germain-en-Laye, Seinte et Loise, on December 13th 1754, and Virginie Lebourg who was christened at Bouteville, Charente, on April 30th 1852. Over the centuries, surnam-es in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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