De Burgh family

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House of de Burgh
Arms of the House of de Burgh.svg
Arms of Burke: Or, a cross gules
CountryKingdom of England
Lordship of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
FounderWilliam de Burgh
MottoUng Roy, Ung Foy, Ung Loy
(One King, One Faith, One Law)

The House of de Burgh (English: /d ˈbɜːr/; Latinised to de Burca or de Burgo) was an ancient anglo-french family .

William de Burgh (c.1160–1205/06) settled in Ireland (1185) founding the Irish line of the family which included the Lords of Connaught, Earls of Ulster and Earls of Clanricarde. After the fourteenth century, the Irish line assumed the name Burke. William's younger brother, Hubert de Burgh, was Earl of Kent and Justiciar of England.[1]

Elizabeth de Burgh, daughter of Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, married Robert the Bruce (later King Robert I of Scots) and became Queen Consort of Scotland. Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster was the wife of Edward III's son Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, from whom the Yorkist Plantagenets later derived their claim to the throne of England.

In England, the name was changed again to 'Burgh' some time after the Civil War in the seventeenth 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 nineteenth century most notably by the Earls and Marquesses of Clanricarde.

The de Burgh family include many prominent figures during the Middle Ages, Crusades, British Empire, World War I and World War II.

Coat of arms[edit]

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 originated 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 states 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.


de Burgh Genealogy: Lords of Connacht, Earls of Ulster and Earls of Kent
Walter de Burgh of Burgh Castle, Norfolk
m. Alice
William de Burgh
(d. 1206)
Hubert de Burgh
1st Earl of Kent
(d. before 1243)
Geoffrey de Burgh
Bishop of Ely
(d. 1228)
Thomas de Burgh
Richard Mór / Óge de Burgh
Lord of Connacht
(d. 1242/3)
Hubert de Burgh
Bishop of Limerick
(d. 1250)
William de Burgh
Sheriff of Connacht
Sir Richard de Burgh
Constable of Montgomery Castle
(d. 1248)
Walter de Burgh
Lord of Connacht
1st Earl of Ulster
(d. 1271)
William Óg de Burgh
(d. 1270)
Richard Óg de Burgh
Lord of Connacht
2nd Earl of Ulster
de Burgh/Burkes of Mayo (Mac William Íochtar
de Burgh/Burkes of Galway (Mac William Uachtar /Clanricarde)
Elizabeth de Burgh
m. Robert I of Scotland
John de Burgh
Edmond de Burgh
William Donn de Burgh
Lord of Connacht
3rd Earl of Ulster
de Burgh/Burkes of ClanWilliam
Elizabeth de Burgh
4th Countess of Ulster
m. Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence

See also[edit]

  • House of Burke, the Irish line


  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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