Burwells in US & Canada

Lt. Col. Mahlon Burwell (ON)
Lt. Col. Mahlon Burwell (ON)

There is a Burwell family in southwestern Ontario and one in Virginia. No one is sure if they’re related. I wonder if the link might be through Burwells in Connecticut.

The Ontario Burwells are United Empire Loyalists. Fighting for the losing side in the American Revolution, they fled New Jersey north to still-British Canada. The Virginia Burwells fought on the American side. In the War of 1812, the two again fought on opposite sides. In the American Civil War, the Virginia Burwells, plantation owners, fought on the Confederate side.

Burwells: Carter's Grove sevamarkers.umwblogs.org
Carter Burwell’s VA plantation, Carter’s Grove

An obituary of James Burwell of Fingal says he was grandson to John Burwell “who removed from James Town, Virginia, in the year 1721, a relative of the extensive family of Burwells in that county.” A relativeSpeculation has been that John Burwell was the son of Lewis Burwell Jr. and Martha Lear.

Burwell Family Tree chart D Stewart
Click for large image

I suggest that John and Lewis Jr. were 3rd cousins twice removed, related through two cousins in England. One cousin, John’s great-great-grandfather, came to Connecticut. The other died in England but his widow and son Lewis (Sr.) moved to Virginia. Molly’s Burwell Family webpage has Samuel Burwell of Connecticut as John’s father. From this, I found what seems like a feasible line back to England and thus to the Virginia line.

Other Burwells

Lewis Burwell 'Chesty' PullerThe story of the Virginia Burwells is like Gone with the Wind with spin-offs. There are two Burwells I will write more about. They are on the bottom right side of my chart.

Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell Puller is descended from Lewis Burwell V. Nicknamed Chesty, he was the most-decorated Marine in US history. Wikipedia says he is a distant cousin of Gen. George S. Patton. I haven’t looked into that, but it sounds like they were spiritual kin if not actual. A quote mascot_of_the_Marine_Corps,_English_bulldog_Pfc._Chesty_XIV,-Arlington,_VA-wikicommonsattributed to Lt. Gen. Chesty is: “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him.  We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem.” The Marine Corps Bulldog mascot is named after him.

George “William” Kirkland is a descendant of Armistead Burwell, Lewis’ brother. First known as “Garland’s George,” he enlisted as “William Kirkland” in the Union Army during the Civil War. He died in Madam Elizabeth Keckley UNC Librariesthe Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri. He was born into slavery, son of Elizabeth Keckley. She was owned and fathered by Armistead Burwell. She was later given to Anne, Armistead’s legitimate daughter, who married Hugh Garland of North Carolina. Andrew Kirkland, friend of the Garlands, fathered Elizabeth’s son George. Elizabeth bought emancipation for herself and her son. She then set up a dressmaking business in Washington DC and became friends with Mary Todd Lincoln. She wrote a memoir entitled Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in The White House.

Comments, corrections and additional information are welcome.

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2 thoughts on “Burwells in US & Canada”

  1. I visited Williamsburg a few years ago. Well worth the trip. When I toured the governors mansion in Williamsburg there was mention of a Burwell who stood in as Govenor for I think a year which was a short term. England had enormous control over these governors. Williamsburg was first settled in 1633 and I think Jamestown was where they first landed in 1610. I visited Jamestown as well. I had often wondered if there was a connection to the Burwells in Virginia and those that were in New Jersey and Conn. Jamestown was where they all landed ,first so did they migrate north from Virginia,probably . That was my guess. I purchased the historical book of Williamburg and they did mention in it a Rebecca Burwell who was linked to Thomas Jefferson. They never mentioned the Burwell that stood in as Govenor. But I learned about him from the tour of the governors mansion.

    1. Hi Gail, what a wonderful trip that must have been. I now want to go to Virginia too. Yes, Lewis, son of Nathaniel Burwell and Elizabeth Carter, was acting governor after the death of the governor in 1750. Lucy Burwell (Nathaniel’s sister I think) was courted by Governor Nicholson but refused to marry him. William, grandfather of Letitia Burwell, was private secretary to Thomas Jefferson. Letitia wrote a couple books about pre-Civil War life, one I have a link to at the bottom – A Girl’s Life in Virginia. There used to be a huge website about them and their houses and Virginia. I can’t find it now, so I’ve been getting bits and pieces from all over. I don’t think I came across Rebecca, so I’ll look into that. Thanks, and thanks for writing.

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