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The webmaster of this site is Norma Burns Farmilo now at

To join the BURNS FAMILY DNA PROJECT go to or write to me:

JOHN BURNS & JOHN SONGHURST bought land from WILIAM PENN in 1684. They bought 1.25 acres in Pennsylvania in Town 19. (A-AA Patent Index=1684-1770)=w). JOHN SONGHURST is listed several times by himself. Both JOHN BURNS & JOHN SONGHURST show up in the Philadelphia Council Meeting Records for 1690. JOHN SONGHURST (see WILLIAM PENN & the Founding of PA 1680-1684 by editor JEAN R SODERLUND) becomes a Philadelphia council member. JOHN BURNS is only heard of one more time in the records as far as I can ascertain. It is my theory that Town 19 might be in Hamilton Township, Cumberland Co. (Formerly Lancaster Co and later Mifflin Co PA).

Subject: John Burns /Burnes and John Songhurst From: Dennis DeBrandt
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 10:25:14 -0400
To: ""

Both Johns (Burns and Songhurst) were claimants to land in what is known today as East Oak Lane, Phila. Those claims show on a map by Thomas Holme in 1687. They adjoined one another. Songhurst's land extended from Cheltenham Ave to Oak Lane Ave, east of Old York Road. It's triangular in shape. Burnes land went from Oak Lane Ave to about Godfrey also east of Old York Road. You can see these streets on any map of Phila. A Burns family held that land into the 19 th century and a Mary Burns lived in an old house just north of those lands in the late 19 th century and the house is still there. I have no information that Songhurst ever settled there but he aided Holme in the map making and also put in regulations about cutting the forest. The Burnes however are not listed as landowners in 1734. Regards Dennis DeBrandt, Rockville, MD
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This JOHN BURNS might be the father of JOHN B BURNS who was born 1682. Other researchers have other theories. The purpose of these web pages is to have a starting point for arguing the issues we do not agree on. If there is proof for some of these theories and arguments I would hope that it would be produced and the argument could be settled.

JAMES L STOKES ( has helped me look into this situation. Nothing conclusive has come from it however some facts might help to later prove or disprove my theory. I will present everything I know here.

If JOHN B BURNS b. 1682 in Scotland the first question is whether it was Scotland in the UK or Scotland PA near where he died and was buried. If it was Scotland PA then who was his father. It could have been the JOHN BURNS of this article.

JAMES L STOKES says, "Almost certainly the JOHN BURNS was a Quaker, the Presbyterians didn't arrive until about 1718. Before that time there was only two Presbyterian Churches in PA but after 1718 their numbers grew rapidly. It appears that JOHN SONGHURST was here in 1690."

JOHN BURNESS (JOHN BURNS) the uncle of ROBERT BURNS the poet paid his fynes in 1690. He was never heard of in the Scottish records after that time. He could have paid these fynes before leaving the country or perhaps the money was sent back after he was here. There is a possibility that our JOHN BURNS is the poet's uncle.

JAMES L STOKES goes one to say, "I couldn't find much on the JOHN BURNS of Philadelphia, he doesn't show up in Hinshaw's "Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy". He didn't have a will in Philadelphia and I couldn't find a record of him buying land.

JOHN SONGHURST bought land upon his arrival in Philadephia and JOHN BURNS isn't listed. JOHN SONGHURST JR made a claim about some land in Philadelphia his father owned but the people from the land office found no record of this purchase. Perhaps this land was bought in England from William Penn as you said but there is no evidence that this is what happened."

"I checked the History of Cumberland County and there was no mention of a JOHN BURNS although there were references to other BURNS'. A JOHN BURNS had a will in Cumberland County in 1760, he lived in Hamilton Twp. A JOHN BURNS purchased a warrant in 1745 in Lancaster County. This could be the same JOHN BURNS since Cumberland County was formed from Lancaster County in 1750. There was no will or record of a JOHN BURNS in Lancaster other than this warrant."

"The JOHN BURNS of the 1745 warrant was probably a fairly new settler. It was typical for people to come to Philadelphia, spend a few years working and then buy land on the frontier. In 1745 Cumberland County was the frontier. I tend to doubt that this JOHN BURNS was born in 1682 since he would have been 78 when he died and that is a ripe old age for someone on the frontier (not necessarily for our family) and 63 was a little late in life to buy land on the frontier."

"There are no passenger lists or naturalizations for the English settlers since they were already subjects of the King so not much was made of their arrival as far as records go."

I'm including some of the information I have on JOHN SONGHURST because the two obviously were friends. There may be overlapping evidence that may be important later in our research. JAMES L STOKES continues, "JOHN SONGHURST was from Chillington in the county of Sussex, a carpenter (An Explanation of the Map of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia by JOHN REED 1774 & 1870).

The History of Chester County shows JOHN SONGHURST as arriving on the Welcome in 1682 (Welcome Claimants, Proved, Disproved and Doubtful by McCRACKIN)."

In the Miami FL Library I (NORMA) came across a book with more information on JOHN SONGHURST (WILLIAM PENN & the founding of PA 1680-1684 by editor JEAN R SODERLUND).

Page 195 - JOHN SONGHURST in Philadelphia Jan 9, 1683.

Page 196 - d. 1689 a carpenter originally of Chiltington, Sussex, MBE Arch St Meeting House, Phil (PWP, 2:333-37).

Page 230 - Assembly - members elected for each county. - Philadelphia - JOHN SONGHURST.

Page 235 - Two members to be sent to Governor & Council as liason to assembly. Elected March 14, 1683 - JOHN SONGHURST & GRIFFIN JONES.

Page 242 - To report a bill had been passed March 20, 1683.

Page 272 - Present assembly members in "The Frame of the Government of the Province of PA in America by Wm Penn April 2, 1683.

Page 339 - Als.FLL(PAWP, 2:501-2) JOHN SONGHURST was a carpenter who helped THOMAS HOLME to survey the woods & regulate the cutting of timber in Philadelphia c.9 Nov 1683. 13 ships brought passengers to PA in Sept - Nov 1683 & many of these newcomers wanted city lots.

1690 Assembly - one representative for each county - Bucks; Philadelphia (JOHN SONGHURST); Chester; Newcastle; Kent; Sussex (Authentic History of Lancaster Co by J I MOMBERT D.D. p. 56 & 57. Miami Library).

On page 57 it says that JOHN SONGHURST came from Sussex in England. He was a writer & preacher among the Quakers. He died in West Jersey & was buried in Philadelphia in 1688 (1 Proud, 235-6).

JOHN BURNESS wrote: NORMA, I can't see any likely link to your family. The BURNS name was very common in Scotland, Ireland and England and there are many totally unrelated families named BURNS. The spelling BOURNS was only found in Ireland, and I am sure there is no connection of the CUTHBERTSON family to the poet's since there was no ARCHIBALD in the poet's family. Since the poet's ancestors were mostly farmers in northeast Scotland, I personally think it unlikely that any would have emigrated to America at an early date.

If your JOHN BURNS bought land in Pennsylvania 1684, (from PENN who was in the British Isles at the time) I don't see how he could have been in Scotland in 1690.

I don't have anything more definite on COLONEL JOHN BURNESS, son of WALTER BURNESS, although there are several early BURNESS families in Kincardine that could be descended from him.

Regards, JOHN

At 11:24 PM 25/10/99 -0700, you wrote: Our family thinks they are related to ROBERT BURNS, the Poet. It was my theory that it was through his uncle, COLONEL JOHN BURNESS who was last heard of in Scotland in 1690 when he paid his fynes. The BOURNS family of Pennsylvania claim a direct link. We don't think we are related to the BOURNS family of Franklin Co PA. I have an extensive web site on the BURNS' of PA and elsewhere. If you have time would you please review what I have and see if you can recognize any "overlap". Thank you, The webmaster of this site is Norma Burns Farmilo now at