The surname “Burke” came to England and Ireland with the Normans and soon became common.
That’s why I can find a lot of other people with my name. I searched for “Sue Burke” at Facebook and gave up counting after 300. (A while back, at random, I became Facebook friends with two other Sue Burkes just because – delightful women, and very different from me and each other.)
“Sue” is also the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered, now on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. I am Sue, fear me.
“Burke” is a verb, too: 1. to murder in such a way as to leave no marks on the body, usually by suffocation; 2. to get rid of, silence, or suppress.
That meaning comes from William Burke, who, with his partner William Hare sold bodies to a medical school for anatomical dissection. To get those bodies, they killed 16 people, usually by suffocation, before they were discovered. Hare turned state’s evidence, and Burke was hanged in 1829.
I don’t believe we’re related, which is a relief.
I’m also not related to Edmund Burke (1729-1797), which is too bad. He was the Irish orator, statesman, and philosopher famous for saying, among other things:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”
“Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.”
“Education is the cheap defense of nations.”
No one I know had anything to do with the television show Burke’s Law, although the series was popular in our household. On the air from 1963 to 1966, it featured Gene Barry, who won the 1965 Golden Globe for his role as Amos Burke, a millionaire chief of detectives in Los Angeles who often declared his own rules during an investigation:
“Never ask a question unless you already know the answer. Burke’s Law.”
“Never confuse the improbable with the impossible: Burke’s Law.”
“If you must swim in dangerous waters, don't invite the sharks to lunch: Burke’s Law.”
“You never grow up, you grow old: Burke’s Law.”
— Sue Burke
Also posted at my professional website, http://www.sue.burke.name