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German, English, and Dutch: status name for a freeman of a
borough, especially one who was a member of its governing council, a
derivative of Middle High German burc, Middle English
burg ‘(fortified) town’, Middle Dutch burch. The English
name is found occasionally as a surname from the 13th century onwards
but is not recorded as a vocabulary word until the 16th century. The
usual English term was the Old French word burgeis ‘burgess’