Biography of George Herbert Burnham

GEORGE HERBERT BURNHAM – Walter Le Veutre came to England at the time of the Conquest, in 1066, in the train of his cousin-german, Earl Warren, sonin-law of William the Conqueror. He was lord of the Saxon village of Burnham and others, and from Burnham, where he lived, he was known as De Bumham. He took his surname from this town. The name is often spelled Burnam, Bernam, and Barnham, as well as Burnham, and in the old Anglo-Saxon, Beornham, Byrnhom, and in other forms. In the old Norse the name is Bjorn, which in Anglo-Saxon is Beorn, and Burn (a bear), meaning, according to Ferguson, “chief, hero, man.” There were towns of this name in both Somersetshire and County Sussex before the year 900, and the family has been distinguished ever since. The ancient coat-of-arms is:

Arms-Sable, a cross between four crescents argent.

The Burnhams of both Old and New England trace their ancestry remotely to A. D. 1010, when their ancient patronymic was de Burnham, and it so continued until 1080, when the prefix de was dropped. And they are descended from Walter le Veutre. Such, in brief, is the origin of one of the ancient families of England, and one which in New England dates from the early Colonial period, from the year 1635, when three immigrant brothers-John, Thomas and Robert Burnham-came from England and sat down in that part of the mother town of Ipswich then known as Chebacco Parish, and which now is the town of Essex, in the county of the same name, and the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. These immigrant brothers were sons of Robert and Mary (Andrews) Burnham, of Norwich, Suffolk, England.

(I) Daniel Burnham was probably a descendant of John Burnham, many of whose descendants lived in the western part of Massachusetts, but none of the family historians have established the ancestry. The records are insufficient for the purpose. He was born in 1743 and settled in what is now the village of Montague City in the town of Montague, where he died October 11, 1783, aged forty years. He was a soldier in the Revolution from Montague, a private in Captain Thomas Grove’s company of minute men, Colonel William’s regiment, on the Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775; also in Captain Reuben Polly’s company, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel William’s regiment, from December 16, 1776, to March 19, 1777. Children: Reuel; Silas; Daniel, of whom further; Moses.

(II) Daniel Burnham, son of Daniel Burnham, was born in Montague, in 1778, and died there March 28, 1851. He married (first), February 1, 1802, Lucy Dodge, doubtless a descendant of the Utley family of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. He married (second), June 1, 1839, Laura Hovey Russell. Children, born at Montague: 1. Roderick R., born February 1, 1804; married, January 1, 1833, Nancy Wilmarth; died December 21, 1854. 2. Daniel, born November 14, 1805, died September 3, 1834; married, July 19, 1825, Sarah H. Gardner, and had two children, Elihu and Silas. 3. Alvira A., born March 22, 1807; married, June 13, 1825, Bela Burnett. 4. Lucy, born February 14, 1809; married Joel S. Shumway. 5. John E., born October 14, 1810, died January 22, 1820. 6. Utley, born July 1, 1812. 7. Andrew, born September 16, 1814, died May 2, 1820, killed by lightning. 8. John, born November 11, 1816, died February 19, 1835. 9. Alonzo, born August 10, 1821; lived at Montague; married there, May 16, 1852, Herriet M. Littlejohn. 10. George W., of whom further. 11. Sarah, born December 3, 1824; married L. B. Grout. Child of second wife: 12. Daniel W.

(III) George W. Burnham, son of Daniel and Laura Hovey (Russell) Burnham, was born at Montague, Massachusetts, March 13, 1823, died in South Hadley, Massachusetts, May 2, 1874. He was a harness-maker in South Hadley, where he lived at the time of his death. He married, September 21, 1853, Cordelia A. Wilcox, born March 21, 1833, in Halifax, Vermont, died in South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1904. Children: Fred E.; Julia L.; John R.; George H., born 1860, died 1863; Hattie A., born 1862, died 1863; George Herbert, of whom further.

(IV) George Herbert Burnham, son of George W. and Cordelia A. (Wilcox) Burnham, was born at South Hadley, Massachusetts, June 30, 1864. He was educated in the public schools of South Hadley, and when he had finished his studies he went to Florence, Massachusetts, to work for the Florence Sewing Machine Company, where he remained three years. He then opened a carriage paint shop in Northampton, Massachusetts, in which he did business for three years. From about 1888 he carried on an extensive business in buying and selling carriages, sleighs, and harness. He also had a livery, in which he turned out some of the best horses obtainable. In 1909 he began to deal in automobiles. He sold the Jackson, Rambler, and Nash. In 1920 he sold out his livery and carriage business, and since that time has handled the Studebaker automobile exclusively for Hampshire County. He is vice-president and director of the Hampshire County Used Car Exchange. He is a member of the Methodist Church.

Mr. Burnham married, August 4, 1885, Addella M. Brewer, born in Farmington, Province of Quebec, Canada, daughter of Edwin B. and Jennie (Carson) Brewer. They had one daughter, Hattie May, who died April 28, 1902.


Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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