This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a locational name from Burnhouse in Scotland. The placename derives from the Middle English "burn", stream, and "house", house. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often used their former village or hamlet name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide distribution of the name in the surrounding areas. The surname is first recorded in Yorkshire in the early 13th Century (see below), over three hundred years before it is found in Scotland. David Burnis is listed as being a follower of the earl of Cassilis in 1526. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Burness, Burnes and Burns. On June 5th 1608, Bessie Burnes married Charles Bryson in Edinburgh, Midlothian, and on September 28th 1760, Gilbert, son of William and Agnes Burness was christened at Alloway, Ayr. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a gold shield, and on a blue fess, between two black spur rowels in chief and a black hunting horn stringed in base, a gold water bouget, the Crest being a demi-Pegasus, winged gold. The Motto, "Perseverantia vincit", translates as, "Perseverance Conquers". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Brenhus, which was dated 1208, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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