De Burgh family

The House of de Burgh (Latinised to de Burca or de Burgo) was an ancient Anglo-Norman family.

Hubert de Burgh was Earl of Kent and Justiciar of England.[1] His elder brother was William de Burgh (c. 1160 - winter 1205/1206), who settled in Ireland in 1185 and founded the Irish line of the family, which after the 14th century took the name Burke, the Earls of Ulster, Lords of Connaught and Earls of Clanricarde.

In England the name was changed again to 'Burgh' some time after the Civil War in the 17th century, the 'de' having been removed to hide the family's connection to the nobility and Catholicism, but was returned to de Burgh in the late 19th century.

The de Burgh family include many prominent figures during The Middle Ages, The Crusades, The British Empire, World War One and World War Two.

Sometimes "Burke" can be spelled "Burk", but only rarely.

Coat of arms

The de Burgh coat of arms is blazoned as Or, a cross gules (a red cross on a gold shield). Legend says that the red cross started with the First Crusade. One story is that a de Burgh recovered a gold shield from a slain Saracen and marked a red cross on it with his own blood. Another story said that Richard I dipped his finger in the blood of a slain Saracen king, put a red cross on the gold shield of de Burgh, and said "for your bravery this will be your crest".

The crest, a seated and chained 'mountain cat', is said to represent liberty and courage and is believed to be awarded for a de Burgh's courage and skill in battle during the Crusades.

The motto has varied between A cruce Salus (Latin: 'salvation from the cross'), which would have originated in the Crusades, and ung roy, ung foy, ung loy (archaic French: 'one king, one faith, one law'), originating when the family moved to Ireland.

See also


  1. C. A. Empey, ‘Burgh, William de (d. 1206)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
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