Definition of burgess in English:


Syllabification: bur·gess
Pronunciation: /ˈbərjis


  • 1A person with municipal authority or privileges, in particular.
  • 1.1British archaic An inhabitant of a town or borough with full rights of citizenship.
    More example sentences
    • Although it gave no additional powers, it did change the title of inhabitants from burgesses to citizens.
    • This placed an onerous tax burden on townsmen (taxation had been extended beyond burgesses to resident non-burgesses).
    • In March 1340 he travelled to London on community business, to show proof to the city authorities that Lynn burgesses were exempt from murage exactions there.
  • 1.2British historical A member of Parliament for a borough, corporate town, or university.
    More example sentences
    • The Return of the Names of Every Member… is the basic source for lists of parliamentary burgesses.
    • These include the most commonly studied groups: the executive (mayors and bailiffs) and parliamentary burgesses.
    • This new borough was also endowed with land, the income from which was used to pay the salaries of two burgesses at parliament.
  • 1.3(In the US and also historically in the UK) a magistrate or member of the governing body of a town.
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    • In the 15th century the Yelde Hall was erected and used by the bailiffs and burgesses of the town as a council chamber.
    • At Lynn in 1340 John de Swerdestone and Adam de Walsoken were elected collectors of the wool custom by the mayor and burgesses, as specified by the king.
    • More than 260 townspeople now belong to the institution and there are four grades; commoner, landholder, assistant burgess and capital burgess.
  • 1.4US historical A member of the assembly of colonial Maryland or Virginia.
    More example sentences
    • Bacon won election to the burgesses, Virginia's upper house, but was arrested when he tried to take his seat.
    • As a burgess, "Loudoun" Lee served on committees dealing with "Propositions and Grievances," "encouraging Arts and Manufactures" and "Privileges and Elections."
    • He became a burgess, and supported the government during Bacon's Rebellion.


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French burgeis, from late Latin burgus 'castle, fort' (in medieval Latin 'fortified town'); related to borough.

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