Brough Family Organization

Research Report on the Possible Relationship of the
de Burgh and de Brus Families of England and Ireland

by Michael H. McMichael
BFO Research Committee Member
January 2016     

     The purpose of this research report is not to conclusively determine that the various de Burgh and, perhaps, de Brus family lines are genealogically connected, but rather to raise for consideration the social and kinship interconnections between those families with a view to informing further research.
     The guiding principle behind this report is that enunciated in the doctoral thesis by Vanessa Traill of the University of Glasgow in May 2013, viz, the analysis of the Anglo-Norman social networks in, broadly, the 11th and 12th centuries (1), although this report does not purport to deal with such networks in anything like the detail of a doctoral thesis.
     As can be understood from the Brough Family Organization (BFO) website, there are a number of de Burgh/Burke/Borough/Brough families in what are now the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Separately, this report will deal briefly with the de Brus pedigree in northern England and Scotland and the extent to which it indicates some form of kin-group with the de Burgh lines.
     The principal de Burgh families appear to be as follows:
     1. the pedigree set out as that of the Early Broughs of Staffordshire, 1055 to 1510, on the BFO website, commencing in about 1055 with Ralph de Limesi (2);
     2. that of the Burghs and Broughs of Westmorland and Yorkshire (and later Lincolnshire), also on the BFO website, commencing in about 1182 with John de Burgh (3) but originating with the Gernet family at an earlier date;
     3. that of the de Burghs of Burrough Green in Cambridgeshire, commencing in about 1086 with Thomas de Burgh (4);
     4. that of the de Burgh/Burke/Bourke line in England and Ireland, commencing in about 1160 with William de Burgh, but originating prior to that date, arguably with Walter de Burgh of Burgh Castle, Norfolk (5).
The de Brus pedigree for northern England and Scotland commences with Robert de Brus I (6) in about 1078 and divides into the Scots (Annandale) and English (Skelton) lines. For the purposes of this report, the interest is primarily with the Pickering branch (Pickering is about 28 miles from Skelton) (7).

     The de Limesi pedigree is exhaustively presented on the BFO website as previously referenced. However, in a 1917 publication titled "The Lindesie and Limesi Families of Great Britain" privately published by John William Linzee and purporting to deal with all members of those families to that date (8) (and also referred to on the BFO page "Possible Ancestry of Ralph de Limesi"), the author proposes that both Ralph and Robert de Limesi were sons of one Hugo de Limesi (9). At page 200 of that publication there is a discussion of the identity of one Robert de Stafford, a de Limesi nephew.
     The doctoral thesis by Vanessa Traill previously cited contains genealogical charts for the various families with which that work is concerned, including that for the Tosny kin-group (10), which includes both the Limesi and Stafford lines. In that chart Robert de Stafford is shown as marrying Avice de Clare, and their son, Nicholas, as marrying Matilda, daughter of Ralph 1 de Limesi.
     If the 1917 publication is accurate to the effect that Robert and Ralph were brothers, it may be that Robert de Limesi, as the Bishop of Chester (and even though clerical celibacy was not uniformly observed at that date), is not the father of the de Limesi who was in turn the father of Phillip de Burgo and instead the father of Phillip was another son of Nicholas de Stafford, son-in-law of Ralph, who took his mother's name of de Limesi - which in itself was not unusual in the 12th century.
     As to how the family adopted the name de Burgo, it appears that the name may have come from the town of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, where the abbey was known as Burgo Sancti Petri (11).
     In 1107 one Nigel d'Aubigny, a Norman knight, married Matilda de L'aigle, who had divorced the disgraced and imprisoned Robert de Mowbray. When Nigel subsequently divorced Matilda, he retained her ex-husband's lordship of Mowbray and when he subsequently married Gundred de Gournay, their son Roger took the surname of Mowbray (12).
     It will be evident that the William d'Aubigny, brother of Nigel, referred to in the material in footnote 11 is identical with the person of that name in the Tosnys of Belvoir pedigree in the Traill thesis and thus the d'Aubigny/Mowbray family forms part of the Limesi kin-group.
     What is striking is that the surname "Gournay" could conceivably be spelt "Gernet" if the latter were pronounced in the French manner. An online trawl discloses that others have made the same connection - if, indeed, a connection it is. What also stands out is that the Mowbray arms included a lion rampant, as did, apparently, the arms of the Gernet family. For the latter assertion see an online publication titled "The Hissem-Montague Family" (13).
     Interestingly, the de Burghs of Gainsborough (via Westmorland and Yorkshire) continued to incorporate a lion rampant in their arms some centuries later (14).
     The pedigree of the Westmorland and Yorkshire de Burgh/Borough/Brough families is set out on the BFO website.
     Although these are no more than tantalising leads, it might be reasonable to draw the conclusion that, at the least, there exists the possibility of a connection between the Gournay/Mowbray and Gernet, not to mention Limesi and Burgo, families,. The existence of such a connection involving the Gernets, and their descendants including the Westmorland and Yorkshire Burghs, would go some way towards explaining the positions and marriages achieved by both Hugh Burgh of Salop and Thomas de Burgh of Gainsborough many generations later, as it would the appointment of the Gernets of Westmorland as royal foresters.
     Various entries on the web also indiscriminately shift between "Gernet", "Gournay" and "Gernon", raising the possibility that the benefactors of Dieulacres abbey (which is near Leek in Staffordshire and where Robert Burgh was forester in 1538 (15) ) were part of the same family. There is some academic support for the suggestion that the Staffordshire Burgh line has a connection with the Westmorland Burghs through the Gernet family (16) .
     If the Mowbrays were kin of the Gernet family, it is unsurprising that the latter were associated with Cistercian institutions, most particularly Dieulacres - and more so if the de Gernons were part of the same family. That abbey was initially established at Poulton in Cheshire in about 1153, moving to the site near Leek, Staffordshire, in 1214, but had an early landholding in Westmorland, at Rossall, some 40 miles from Burrow with Burrow where the Burgh families are found in the 13th Century, and it might be that the Burghs farmed the Rossall grange on behalf of the abbey.
     The conclusion that could be tentatively drawn from this is that, assuming the Gernets were related to the Mowbrays and thus to the Staffordshire Limesi/ Burgo line, the Burghs of Westmorland followed Dieulacres Abbey to Leek at some time prior to their appearance in the record around the time of the Dissolution and that the ancient connection between the families led to intermarriage and consolidation into one family group. Support for this could be found in the arms of the Staffordshire Burghs, as referenced in the BFO report on the "Possible Relationship of the Burghs of Westmorland, England and the Broughs of Staffordshire, England", and as to which more later in this report.
     It could be, as Anne Brough Hind has noted in a slightly different context, that the plagues around 1348 and in subsequent years and other natural disasters of that time provide the explanation for the demise or diminution of the earlier family, as well as the movement of the Westmorland Burghs to Staffordshire.

     As stated above, the de Burghs of Burrough Green in Cambridgeshire are first identified in that place through Thomas de Burgh, born in 1086. The manor descended in the de Burgh family for some 200 years (17).
     Based on the pedigree of the early Broughs of Staffordshire on the BFO website, and the likelihood that that Burgh family originated in Cambridgeshire, it seems that the Thomas de Burgh born in 1086 would be the person shown as the son of Robert de Limesi (or, as proposed above, of Nicholas de Stafford) and his son Philip is in turn the Philip fitz Bishop/de Burgo in the BFO pedigree.
     A later Philip (died in 1235) married Maud, the daughter of Torfin, the heir of the Manfield fee. This Torfin was variously known as Manfield, Brough (or Burc or Burgo) and Watheby (18). The coincidence of the second surname is nowhere explained, but Watheby (Waitby) is in Westmorland, now Cumbria, about 6 miles from Brough, while Manfield is about 32 miles on the other side.
     This Burrough Green family also held considerable estates in Yorkshire, including the manors of Hackforth, Aysgarth and Great Langton (19). That the family in the 13th century also bore the "swan" arms of some of the coeval Westmorland and Catterick Burghs indicates a connection between those families, perhaps via Maud the daughter of Torfin, and since there would appear to be an established connection with the Staffordshire Burghs could well also explain the same arms being claimed in that case.
     As discussed above the Westmorland Burghs descend from the Gernet line and further research may establish any connection between the Gernets and the lords of Manfield beyond Maud's marriage to Philip. That the two families were present in the same area is shown in the British History Online entry for Casterton, in the Barony of Kendale (20), where John Gernet is recorded as alienating a portion of the lands which descended through Torfin's daughter Matilda/Maud (and note the descent for the manor of Casterton, which apparently incorrectly records one Hugh de Burgh as a husband of Matilda, rather than Philip).

     As noted above, the origins of this family are obscure but appear to be in Norfolk. The subsequent history of the family in Ireland does not obviously link it to any of the families discussed above. The Vatican Archives offer up the papers of March 1574 which ascribe the origins of the Irish de Burghs to France (21). That this is largely unhelpful, given the origins of the majority of the Norman families, requires no further comment.
     It is completely speculative, but the coincidence of the surname de Burgo/Burgh arising around the end of the 11th century and the distance between Burgh in Norfolk and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire being about 80 miles raises the possibility that the two families are indeed connected, reinforced perhaps by common patronymics such as Thomas, Robert, William and John.
     Notwithstanding the statement in the first paragraph above, it appears that Richard Mor de Burgh prior to 1243 married (perhaps as well as two other women), the daughter of Robert de Gournay, Hodierna de Gournay, sometimes spelt de Gernon (22), which for the reasons expounded earlier, may evidence a connection with the Gernet family of Westmorland.
     To continue with kin-group speculation, it should be noted in the British History Online material for Burgh cited at footnote 5 above, that the Bigot/Bigod family were seated at Burgh Hall, and that this family also appears in Ms Traill's thesis in the Tosny pedigree referred to above.
     Further research may establish whether it is a fact, but the Burgh family or families so often appear in an area containing the name "Burgh" or some variation of it, that the conclusion could be drawn that the location has been named after the family, rather than the other way around. The identification of the Irish de Burgh origins with Burgh in Norfolk may be an example of that phenomenon.

     That the de Brus pedigree includes King Robert of Scotland is well known, but less often remarked upon is the connection that the family had with the north of England (23). The family and its fortunes are documented in the book and thesis by Ruth Blakely referenced at footnote 6 and among their principal holdings in the north was Skelton Castle (24).
     Although there appears to be no recorded connection with the Mowbray or Gernet families, it is of interest that the Brus arms of a lion rampant are so similar to the arms of those two families. There is, however, one obvious connection between the Brus and Burgh families, in that King Robert married Elizabeth de Burgh (25), daughter of Richard Og de Burgh of Ireland (26).
     Two locations where both the Burgh family (or other related families - see below) and the Brus family can be found are at Pickering and Crambe, respectively about 28 and 15 miles from Skelton. For a detailed examination of the Brus family in and around Pickering, see a blog by John Watson (27). The reference in the body of that material, around footnote 33, to Alexander de Bergh is doubtless a reference to a relative of King Robert's wife, Elizabeth.
     William Borough of Catterick, born around 1395 married Elena Pyckerynge (Pickering). Also, William's father, Willielmus Borough of Catterick, born around 1371, married Matildam Lascelles.
     While Borough names do not occur in the BHO entry for Pickering, Pickering and Lascelles names do - see under "Manors" (28).
     The BHO entry for nearby Crambe (29) also contains references to the Brus and Pickering families (and note the Pickering arms which could be seen to also derive from the Mowbray/Gernet arms and which are very similar to those of the Brus family) - see in the body of the entry around footnote 110.
     Turning to the BHO entry for Fingall (30), in the body of the entry at footnote 49 is a reference to Picot de Lascelles and at footnote 50 to Thomas de Burgh. This establishes that they are brothers-in-law, probably at some date around 1152. This Thomas is of the family found in Burrough Green referred to earlier in this report:
     While no definitive connection can be made, the recurring patronymics such as William, Robert, Richard and Adam in both the Brus and Burgh families might indicate a kin-group connection, perhaps through the Pickering (31) or Lascelles (32) families. Also worthy of consideration is whether at some date one or other family adopted the name of the other, more dominant family, a not uncommon occurrence in medieval England and which also occurred at least once in the Burgh line when Richard de Richmond married Elizabeth Borough in about 1346 and adopted the Borough name.






But see also
For a discussion on the origins of "Burgh":
about ¾ of the way through.

(6) See Ruth Blakely, Boydell Press 2005. A preview is available at:
and see that author's Durham e-thesis -

(7) Blog by John Watson:

(8) John William Linzee, 1917:

(9) Ibid

(10) Op cit page xv ff

(11) -
see footnote 1 and see further

and also

While this publication seems to have no academic authority, and is both hard to follow and seemingly haphazard, to the extent that I have cross-referenced it, the statements made appear to be correct.

(14) For an explanation of the lion rampant arms, see
at page 746.

(15) - see under "Forest and warren".

(16) The following has the imprint of the University of Sheffield -
and the following page -

(17) - see under "Manors and Other Estates".

(18) Early Yorkshire Charters, Vol 5 P55ff -
and British History Online -

and also


see No 293, paragraph beginning "This castle of Allon…".

(22) The Ancestry of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, George Russell French 1841 -









(31) Blakely thesis op cit P153, fn 51 and Pp 212-212, fn 32


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