Burd, James, 1726-1793

Alternative names
Birth 1726-03-10
Death 1793-10-05

Biographical notes:

James Burd was a Pennsylvania merchant and farmer. He also commanded at Fort Augusta (Pa.) and elsewhere during the French and Indian War, 1755-1763.

From the description of Business records and accounts, 1747-1768. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122316269

James Burd was born in Scotland. He immigrated to Philadelphia in 1747 and became a merchant there. He moved to Shippensburg in 1752. He played a prominent role in the French and Indian War as Colonel of the 4th Battalion of Lancaster County and was instrumental in the building of roads in Cimberland and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania.

From the description of James Burd papers 1755-1776 [mansucript]. (Historical Society of W Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 43534770

James Burd was a merchant and farmer. He also commanded at Fort Augusta (Pennsylvania) and elsewhere during the French and Indian War, 1755-1763.

From the description of Burd-Shippen Papers, 1740-1792 (bulk). (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 86102558

The prominent Philadelphian Edward Shippen was born on February 16, 1729, to Edward Shippen and Sarah Plumley Shippen. A moderate loyalist during the Revolution, Edward Shippen served as judge in Philadelphia until 1791, when he became associate justice for the state supreme court. From 1799 until his death in 1804, he served as Chief Justice for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. One of his daughters, Margaret, married Benedict Arnold; another, Elizabeth, married Shippen's friend and business associate, Edward Burd.

James Burd was born in Scotland in 1726, moved to Pennsylvania, married Sarah Shippen (1731-1784) in 1748, and died in 1793. His son Edward Burd (1750-1833) rose to the rank of major in Haller's Pennsylvania Battalion of the Flying Camp in 1776, and was taken prisoner at Long Island that same year. After Edward’s release, ill health prevented his reentering the service, and he returned to his legal practice. He served with great distinction as prothonotary of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (1778-1806). Edward married Elizabeth Shippen (b. 1754), daughter of Edward Shippen, in 1778. Their son, Edward Shippen Burd (1779-1856), became a specialist in property law.

William Tilghman (1756 -- 1827) was a Maryland born lawyer and Politian who succeeded Edward Shippen as Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1804.

From the guide to the Burd-Shippen papers, 1738-1847, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)

James Burd (1726-1793) was well-known in colonial Pennsylvania through his role in the French and Indian War, as well as his connections to many of the colony's leading families (most notably the Shippen family). Initially starting out as a merchant in Philadelphia, Burd became increasingly involved with colonial affairs after moving to Lancaster County with his family in 1752. It would be on the frontier where Burd would make his mark first as a soldier, and later as a magistrate.

Born at Ormiston Hall near Edingburgh, Scotland on March 10, 1726, James Burd was one of Edward Burd and Jean Haliburton's ten children. Little is known about Burd's youth in Scotland, though it seems he received a very thorough education. Upon reaching adulthood, Burd left Scotland and spent a year in London before arriving in Philadelphia in September 1747. It did not take him long to become established in the city, quickly making business and social connections. Within his first year he was renting a store on Front Street, advertising in the Pennsylvania Gazette, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and a member of the St. Andrews Society of Philadelphia. Through either his social activities or membership in the church Burd came into contact with several of Philadelphia's prominent families -- including those of Shippen, Willing, and Allen. That first year he also became romantically involved with Edward Shipppens's daughter Sarah, and the two were married in 1748.

Burd's business endeavors continued to grow in Philadelphia. By the end of 1748 he had moved his store to Carpenter's Wharf, his younger brother John was indentured to him in 1749, and his brother-in-law Joseph Shippen was working in the store. In 1750 Burd expanded his business involvement into the shipping world, becoming a partner in the snow, Sally . Finally, Burd sought to further extent his mercantile business with a trip to Jamaica in 1751, entrusted with merchandise worth over a thousand pounds. Unfortunately the trip proved to be a failure as a hurricane hit the island and wrecked many of his investments. The year proved additionally bad for Burd as his business in Philadelphia began to decline after he made too many investments and over extended credit to his customers.

Leaving the mercantile business, Burd took up farming and milling on land provided by his father-in-law in Lancaster County. In 1752 he moved his family west to Shippensburg, on the Pennsylvania frontier. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War Burd began his long career of public service to the colony. James' first appointment came in March 1755 when Governor Robert Morris named him one of five commissioners (along with George Croghan, William Buchanan, John Armstrong, and Adam Hoops) to survey a supply road from Shippensburg to Raystown for General Edward Braddock's Expedition against Fort Duquesne. That April Burd was placed in charge of building the road. Unfortunately, the work progressed too slowly to be of any assistance, and the work was abandoned after Braddock's army evacuated to Philadelphia.. Afterwards Burd remained in western Pennsylvania fortifying the frontier. In December 1755, Burd was commissioned a captain with orders to build and command a fort at Kishicoquilas -- which was later named Fort Granville. The following April, Burd was promoted to major in the Third Battalion (or Augusta Regiment) and sent with his troops to command Fort Augusta. On January 2, 1758 Burd was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Second Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment after Colonel Conrad Weiser resigned. With this promotion Burd was put in command of a large stretch of territory including several forts from the Susquehanna River to the Delaware River in addition to his duties at Fort Augusta. That year Burd assisted with the construction of Fort Ligonier, and the following year built Fort Burd on the Monogahela with James Shippen. Following the Treaty of Lancaster in 1762, Burd was named one of the commissioners to receive prisoners brought to Fort Pitt, and in 1763 was appointed a commissioner and justice of the peace to negotiate with Connecticut in order to prevent the further settlement at Wyoming on land belonging to the Six Nations. Burd continued to command at Fort Augusta until he resigned from the army in 1765.

Upon returning to his family, who had spent the last ten years living in Lancaster, Burd sought to build a new home. In 1767 he purchased a 500 acre tract of land along the Susquehanna River in what is now Lower Swartara Township, and began construction of a stone house he named Tinian. The following year he moved his family into Tinian, where he remained for the rest of his life. Burd continued in public service, serving as Justice of the Peace and Magistrate for the Courts of Lancaster County. Additionally, he was chairman for the county's Committee for the Relief of the Boston Sufferers in 1774, and in 1775 was elected to the Lancaster County Committee of Safety. With the outbreak of the Revolution, Burd actively supported the cause for independence, helping to raise troops in Lancaster County. Although he was commissioned a colonel he never commanded troops in the field, and resigned in 1776. Burd continued to serve as a magistrate in Lancaster County until his death on October 5, 1793.

From the guide to the Burd-Shippen Papers, 1708-1792, (American Philosophical Society)


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  • American loyalists--Pennsylvania
  • United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763
  • Real property
  • Indians of North America--Canada--Government relations
  • Meteorology--Observations
  • Colonial Politics
  • Native America
  • Fort Hunter
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Commerce
  • Trade
  • Lawyers--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
  • Fort Duquesne
  • Indians of North America--Government relations
  • Pennsylvania--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763
  • Lawyers
  • Government Affairs
  • Seven Years' War
  • Iroquios Indians
  • Military history
  • Military supplies
  • United States--Army--Supplies and stores
  • Fort Augusta (Pa.)
  • Business and Skilled Trades
  • Pennsylvania--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
  • Fort William Henry (N.Y.)
  • Iroquois Indians
  • Lancaster County (Pa.)--History
  • Land and Speculation
  • Pennsylvania History
  • Law
  • American loyalists
  • Surveying and Maps
  • Real property--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
  • Shippenburg Library Company
  • Meteorology--Pennsylvania--Observations
  • Fort Pitt (Pa.)


  • Merchants--United States


  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Fort Pitt (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Old Fort Niagara (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Fort William Henry (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Fort Bedford (Ont.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Fort Pitt (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Fort Ligonier (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Fort Detroit (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Fort Hunter (as recorded)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Fort Augusta (Pa.) (as recorded)