Also Burne, Burr, Bourne.
The name is generally believed to be territorial, from bourne meaning stream. It could, however, be from the Old English beorn, meaning warrior.
The clan was located in the Scottish Middle March in east Teviotdale to the south west of Hawick.
The Burn family were reputed to have been particularly lawless reivers. Should anyone harm one of their number not only did a feud result but there was usually an explosion of violence resulting in much bloodshed. It was reported that on one occasion when one of their members suffered at the hands of the Collingwoods the Burns were said to have killed 17 Collingwoods as reprisal.
The clan often joined forces with the Pringles, Davisons and the Youngs and they were even believed to have linked up with English reivers. Their reiving activities reached a peak in the late 16th century.
The family were involved in deadly feuding with the Collingwoods of Northumberland.