Burnside is generally accepted as being of Scottish origin, but is more properly a Scottish 'Highland' and an 'English Border' surname, with a foot in each camp. Its origins are Olde English pre 7th century, the derivation being from 'Brunwold heved'. This translates as 'Brown wolfs hill', but whether this refers to a hill owned by a man called 'Brownwolf' or whether it was the lair of the 'brown wolves', is open to argument. As there are at least nine known such sites in England and Scotland, in our opinion as people were generally in awe of wolves, naming a place after them seems quite logical. The first known village recording is as 'Brunesheved' in Westmorland in the year 1225, although the first surname recording is much later, and apparently in Scotland. The coat of arms is black, charged with a chevron in gold, between three boars heads lying fesseways. As the boars head was granted for ferocity, this seems appropriate for a surname found both in the 'Borders' and the 'Highlands'.The name was early into the North American colonies, the Burnsides of Albany, New York, being prominent there well before Independence in 1776. An example being James Burnside, who witnessed the christening of his daughter Mary at Albany on July 22nd 1759. In Scotland and England examples of the recordings include John Burnesyde of Culross, a member of Parliament for Scotland in 1650, and Sarah Burnside, married in westmorland in 1767. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Bunesyid, which was dated 1511, who was a charter witness in Brechin, Scotland, during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 - 1513. 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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