The earliest recorded member of the Burns family may well be David Burns who appears on a marriage certificate as the father of Samuel Burns of Cladybeg, who as a widower of 50 married Margaret Nicholl in Cladymore Presbyterian Church in 1859. Both men are described as weavers.
Samuel Burns appears on the marriage certificate as the father of William Burns who married Jane Locke on 9th May 1867 at Tullyvallen Meeting House in the Parish of Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh. The only details given are that he was a weaver, like his son William. William’s address is given as Cladymore in the Parish of Kilcluney, County Armagh.
It is possible that David Burns was a descendant of the Burns family of Brackley, as there are members of that family living in the same area as William. The Burns family came to Brackley from Ayrshire circa 1750 and descendants of that family are still living on the same plot of land.
The marriage brought William to the Newtownhamilton area and they had seven children who were baptised in Tullyvallen Meeting House. Around 1890 with the children reaching a working age, the family moved to Bessbrook to find work in the linen industry there.
In the new century some of this generation married and sought their fortune in America, John left with his wife and young child in 1906, he was followed by William and his wife and young child in 1910, and eventually Jane went out to America in 1918 and found her husband out there. Minnie, James, Essie and Maggie remained in Bessbrook, James was the only one of these four to marry, he married Mary Ann Littlewood in 1900 and they had three children, he drowned in 1915 and his eldest son William also left for America in 1920. His second son David, my grandfather moved to Newry and married Elizabeth McCann in 1926. They also had three children and David drowned at sea in 1940. Their sister, Stella married Robert (Bobbie) Stewart, but they had no children.
In presenting this information on the Burns side of the family I am indebted to a number of people for their help. In particular I would like to thank my second cousin Cathy Barber of Greenwich, New York, USA who provided the original inspiration and a lot of the information. We have great grandparents in common in James Burns and Mary Anne Littlewood.
I would also like to thank my second cousin once removed Samuel Hanna of Bessbrook, County Armagh who provided a lot of information on the family’s Bessbrook years.