Definition of burgess in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbəːdʒəs/


1 archaic An inhabitant of a town or borough with full rights of citizenship.
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.
2British historical A Member of Parliament for a borough, corporate town, or university.
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.
3(In the US and also historically in the UK) a magistrate or member of the governing body of a town.
Example sentences
  • 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.
3.1US historical A member of the assembly of colonial Maryland or Virginia.
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.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bur|gess

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