Recorded in a number of spellings including Hilborn, Hillborne, Hilbourne, Hillbourne, Hilburn and Hillburn, this is almost certainly an English surname. It is clearly residential and most likely locational from a village called by one of the known surname spellings. However we have not been able to identify any such place in the gazetters of the British Isles, with the possible exception of Hillburn House, in County Wexford, in Ireland. However this place would seem to have been named after or by English settlers to the area in Elizabethan or Stuart times, long after the formation of surnames, and there is no apparent evidence that this place provided the nameholders. Surnames from now 'lost' medieval villages are a feature of the British surnames lists, with an estimated three thousand names coming from places for which the only evidence of their original existence lies in the modern surname, often like this one, in a wide range of spellings. The place name would seem to originate from the pre 7th century Olde English 'hyl-burna' meaning the stream down the hill, but other translations are possible. As an example the prefix could be a personal names such as 'Hilla', which would then give the meaning of Hilla's stream. Examples of the surname recording taken from early surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Sara Hylborne who was christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on November 2nd 1603, John Hilbourne, whose daughter Elizabeth was also christened at St Dunstans, but some sixty years later on February 14th 1666, and William Hilburn or Hillburn, a christening witness at St Pauls, Covent Garden, on October 5th 1690.
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