Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Burrill Family of Fairfield Maine

The Burrill (also written as Burrell) surname is purportedly rooted (at least for our ancestry) in the Anglo-Saxon name Burwell, which is derived from the Old English byrig-wiellw, which means 'town well' or 'fort by a spring'.

Early origins of the name stem from those families that resided in the township of Burwell, as such township was located in each of Northampton, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire.  Anyone with this last name would have ancestors originating in one of these three counties.

According to Ancestry trees (which can be dubious in nature), my 13th great grandfather was Edmund Burwell (1485-1549), from Suffolk (closest to Cambridgeshire), and is the furthest I've been able to trace the line.  Edmund's grandson Thomas Burwell, along with Thomas' son John, sailed to Connecticut about twenty years after the Mayflower arrived, but later migrated up to Plymouth Colony.  Many other Burwells from England had sailed directly to Virginia Colony at the same time.  Upon arrival in the New World, our Burwell family name had changed to Burrill.  Several of these settlers married into lines that descended directly from Mayflower passengers, much like all colonial families. 

With reliable records, however, I've been able to trace as far back as John Burrill (1609-1711), who came at the age of 26 on the Blessing Jul 1636.  He settled in Weymouth, MA 1639. Granted 26 acres. He had two lots of fibe acres granted 'in the Rainge' and 1 acres 'in King oke hill.' He also had lot 33 of 5 acres in the First Division and lot 41 of 15 acres in the second division granted 14 Dec 1663. He was provided arms and ammunition for King Philip's War on 1 Dec 1675, one of 13 Weymouth men in Capt. Johnson's Company in Oct 1675.

His son, John Jr. (1658-1731), married Mercy Alden, granddaughter to Mayflower passenger John Alden.


Bela Burrill (1756-1816) was my 5th great grandfather, and a direct descendant of the Suffolk Burwells.  At the age of nine, while the family was living in Abington, in Plymouth County, his mother (Anna Vinton) was in Maine and died giving birth to Bela's youngest brother Ziba.  According to online trees, Bela's father John Burrill died in Abington on the same day (12 Mar 1765).  I have yet to find any backup records for this date coincidence, but if true it could prove to have been a sad tale.  Bela somehow found his way up to Somerset County, Maine, where he met Hannah Colemore, a Sagadahoc, Maine native.   Bela fought in Captain James Lamont's Company from 22 Jul 1775 to 31 Dec 1774.  Bela's brother John fought in the Revolutionary War, in Capt. Gould's company, Col. John Greaton's regiments, among others and fought five and a half long years. His father John was a Sergeant and his grandfather John was a Captain.

Bela and Hannah settled in Fairfield, and had many children.  Their son Hull Burrill was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a prominent attorney from nearby Canaan.  He appeared in many court records going after people for failure to pay him money.  Their other son Benjamin Burrill (1782-1857) grew up in Fairfield and took on farming, just like the Colemores, Emerys, Sibleys, and Osborns who were his neighbors. 

In 1803, Benjamin married Margaret Sibley, daughter of English, French Huguenot and Nova Scotian immigrants, and they had five children.  In July 1825, he sued his brother Hull for a fraudulent conveyance of 82 acres of land in Canaan his brother sold to him when he didn't own the property.  Hull never showed up in court, and Benjamin was awarded his money back. [Source:  Somerset County Court Records].

Their daughter, Lydia Burrill (1806-1854) married local farmer Jacob Osborn, son to sea captain Isaac Osborn (Rev War veteran and transplant from East Hampton, Long Island) and Sarah Wyman (Isaac's brother Ephraim married Sarah's sister Lydia - who was a cousin to Polly Wyman, Hull Burrill's wife!). 

Jacob died very young, and just a few years after marriage.  A couple years later Lydia married Jacob's own brother Timothy Osborn (1805-1898), pictured below:

Their daughter Lydia Osborn married Charles Samuel Fuller (who was Timothy's cousin!).  Lydia and Charles were my 2nd great grandparents.


As is often the case with early New England families, another set of Burrills figure in to the family:

My third great grandfather, John Holland, whose nephew, James Madison Bell, married Sylvia Belle Burrill, who was also a descendant of immigrant John Burwell (Sylvia was also a descendant of the same Bean family from Scotland as the ancestors of Samuel Bean Fuller, father to Charles Fuller mentioned above!

Below is a pedigree chart of Lydia Burrill-Osborn-Osborn.  She was 25% French, 75% English, with four Mayflower ancestors in her line:  John Alden, his wife Rebecca Mullins, and Rebecca's parents (William & Alice).


  1. My great grandmother was Alta Eva Gifford, granddaughter of Tim and Lydia Osborn. I have Alta's mother,s (Mary Ann Osborn)photo album. A similar but different pic of Timothy, Lydia, and some unknown ones quite, early tin types, etc. I'm thinking we need to exchange some scanned photo's, Email me at

  2. My husband shares the same Burrill line until Hull Burrill. Hull was my husband's was his 3rd g grandfather. Hull's son Bela who married Jane is his 2nd g grandfather and Albert Bodfish Burrill is his g grandfather. I have many many pctures of these relatives. Albert Bodfish Burrill married Mary Parlin. Around 1884 they moved to Baird Texas; Albert died there at age 39 - 1887. We are trying to find the cause of his early death. Do you have any information? We have been to Baird searching; we have hit a brick wall. Albert is buried there in Ross Cemetery. Any information would be appreciated. Joni Bowen

  3. My mom's Great Great Great Grandpa was Bela Burrill. She wants to know if you know the story of why they moved to Minnesota? Bela's son Benjamin who married Margaret Sibley we believe is the reason that my mom went to Sibley Park in Mankato, Minnesota. Can you validate this information? Thanks.

    1. I don't see any data that puts Bela in Minnesota. Email me directly if you like. lobsterjesus@yahoo

  4. Bela was my 4th Great Grandfather. His son Jonas was our line.