Burdick Newsletters

March, 2000

Theories of Burdick Origins

by Howard Burdick and Various Burdick Family Members

As many Burdick Family members know, the accepted origin of the Burdick name in America goes back to Robert Burdick of Rhode Island in the 1650's. But where did Robert come from? Was he an adventurous young Englishman looking to make a new life for himself in the New World? Was he seeking asylum from persecution during the English Civil War? Did the Burdick name sprout from the Burdette family, the spelling of which changed for one of many reasons?

As I have mention before, I'm no genealogical expert or even a researcher. I just like keeping in touch with our extended family, and try to act as a conduit for ideas and discussion. As such, I have received numerous theories and stories about the origins of our family. I have listed them below, and hope you enjoy them as much as I have -- and I sincerely hope that some day, we can find out, with absolute certainty, from where we came.

Theory 1: The LDS Connection

Jeraldyne Burdick Moore (JMoore3672@aol.com) has found a very interesting Burdick connection within the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints web site. You can check it out yourself, by accessing the Family Search Internet Genealogy Service at:


Type in Robert Burdick with Mary Hubbard as his spouse and see what you get! Lots of references to Robert INCLUDING his year of birth in England, father, and mother. Jeraldyne would like to know where the Church came up with this information and if it's fact or fiction -- me, too! Write and let us know.

(PS - Jeraldyne first wrote to me about this in May, 1999 -- sorry for taking so long to get around to reporting it)

Theory 2: A Mid-Ocean Name Change

Susan Merritt (nmerritt@erols.com) wants to pass on a bit of Burdick family lore regarding the change in surname spelling by the first Robert Burdick. The following was passed down in her family as an explanation -- any other family members have a similar legend?

The change in surname came about when two families, Burdicks and Burdettes, emigrated together. Mid-ocean, fever raged through the ship and unfortunately the Burdick group perished to the last man. However, when updating the passenger manifests, the shipping clerk crossed out the wrong surname. It was not until sometime after the surviving passengers disembarked that the confusion over surnames came to light. By then, Robert for all legal purposes was "Burdick" in the colonial records. Perhaps reasoning that his fresh beginnings warranted a new surname to attract better fortune than had followed him in his old surroundings, or maybe simply to honor those who had perished in the crossing, Robert simply accepted the change in spelling, and Burdicks we have been ever since.

(Another PS -- Susan also first wrote to me in May, 1999, I've been quite far behind in some correspondence!)

Theory 3: From Indentured Servant to Freeman

Ed Burdick (EAB6KIDS@aol.com) was checking ship lists a few years ago in the Orlando Public Library. He checked "The Complete Book of Emigrants" 1607-1660 by Peter Wilson Coldham for all 'Roberts' (leaving the last name blank) and found a Robert (no last name) to be a servant to another family.

Here's Ed's theory: Slaves, indentured servants, or serfs could not own land under the laws of England at the time. But if Robert Burdick signed an oath of allegiance to the King of England, it would allow him to become a "freeman" and subsequently eligible to own land.

So Ed thinks that Robert almost immediately went to Rhode Island and bought property. He thinks that if the family that Robert (Robert *blank*, in Coldham's book) was with on the ship could be identified, after they settled in New England, and found out where they came from in England, then perhaps it would provide a link to the Burdick English past.

As Ed says, it is just a theory but if he wasn't a servant type then the question arises, "Why would he have to become a freeman to own property?".

(Got me, I just report 'em!)

Theory 4: Burdicks, Most English!

Graham James Burdick (gb@clara.co.uk) is a Creative Consultant living in Norfolk, England and is, as he puts it, "one of the very small handful in this country who share our unusual surname; clearly we have not been so successful at spreading our seed as our far more numerous colonial cousins!" Check out Graham's web site at http://www.popcomm.co.uk/bios/GBurdick.html

Graham is directly descended from Robert Burdick, 1715-1754 of Abbottsham in North Devonshire. Although there are earlier Burdicks listed in England, he has been unable to establish any further links. Graham reports that there are three groups of Burdicks in England: those in Yorkshire (his close relatives), those in Devon (his distant relatives) and those in London (he has been unable to make a family connection to them).

The London Burdicks predate the others but neither he nor Peter Burdick of Exeter have been able to establish who went where and when. The earliest Burdick Graham has discovered is a Nicholas who was married to Elizabeth Coarse on May 23rd 1574 at St. Peter's Church, Cornhill in London. They christened a son Julian in 1575 and Roger on 31st March 1577 at St. Botolph, Bishopgate, London.

Graham states that both of these parishes are in the old city centre -- authentic Cockney territory -- now the financial centre, "So it would seem that all of us are descended from either Cockney sparrows or Devonshire fisherfolk. No royalty I am afraid -- but then they are all foreigners!"

(Thanks for the British viewpoint, Graham. How interesting that Burdicks are documented in England in the 1570's!)

Burdick News... Up-To-The-Minute!

Duffy Burdick (burdick1@dreamscape.com) suggests reading Cyrus Henry Brown's speech given in 1916 to the Westerly, Rhode Island Historical Society which recounts the "Great Migration" from RI to New York State and thence "The West" for many Burdicks. Although they're not mentioned by name, Burdicks of 19th Century Madison and Chenango Cos. in NY were with that group. The speech can be found at: http://www.usgennet.org/%7Eamhisnet/state/nstonect.html

Dan Lundy (jardam@concentric.net) recommends the following book for Burdick researchers: "JOHN CLARKE AND HIS LEGACIES: Religion and Law in Colonial Rhode Island 1638-1750" by Sydney V. James (Penn State Univ Press, 1999, 0271018496). Dan says it is a very well-written academic monograph that provides insight into conditions in early Rhode Island and Massachusetts, their close connections to the old world, sparrings with Winthrop over the RI-CT border, and, particularly, the fortunes of the First Baptist Church in Westerly. It's very clear on the religious controversies -- the Sabbath, laying on of hands, adult baptism, antinomianism, the professionalization of the pastorate. While no Burdicks figure directly in the story, Tacy Hubbard makes an appearance as do sundry Clarkes, Maxsons, and other folk who frequently feature in Burdick lines.

Corey Dennis (corey@gbasin.net) writes that Verda Burdick's husband, Swanny Kerby, was an inductee into the Pro-rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO in August of 1998. Verda and Swanny ran the pro-rodeo circuit most all of their lives. The city park in Moab, Utah was renamed after Swanny last Autumn. He was the Grand Marshall in a parade and celebration there a few months ago. Verda and Swanny now reside in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.

Claude Townsend (ctown@home.com) has some important news for everyone wanting one of Frank Mueller's out-of-print Burdick books. Claude discovered you can order the book on microfiche through the LDS family history centers! To get a copy sent to your local library, contact: David F. Putman Jr. c/o the Family History Dept., The Mormon Church Library, 35 North West Temple St., Salt Lake City, UT 84150. The order number is 6117982, and the cost is $1.05. Claude reports that David is very well versed on the subject of the Burdicks and within three weeks the microfiche was in his local library for his use. You may wish to contact Claude for more details.

Hugo Burdick (hugoburdick@hotmail.com), one of the English Burdick clan, reports that his cousin, David Burdick, has seen to it that the Burdick name lives on in that country. David has two children, Sam and Holly.

The irrepressible (and snowbound Alaskan) Joann Rhome Herring (quilter2@alaska.net), reports that her brother, Jerry Rhome, who was the in-depth subject of last month's newsletter, has accepted the position of quarterback coach with the Atlanta Falcons football team. I think that qualifies as one of the shortest retirements in history! Good luck, Jerry! (Also, Joann wishes to thank all of you for the many kind emails you sent her during the recent bout of avalanches in Alaska.)

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