|Private limited company|
|Predecessor||Burke's Peerage (1826) Limited (2013-2016)|
Burke's Peerage Limited is a British genealogical publisher founded in 1826, when Irish genealogist John Burke began releasing books devoted to the ancestry and heraldry of the peerage, baronetage, knightage and landed gentry of the United Kingdom. His first publication, a Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom, was updated sporadically until 1847, when the company began releasing new editions every year as Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (often shortened to just Burke's Peerage).
Other books followed, including Burke's Landed Gentry, Burke's Colonial Gentry, and Burke's General Armory. In addition to the peerage, Burke's published books on royal families of Europe and Latin America, ruling families of Africa and the Middle East, distinguished families of the United States and historical families of Ireland.
The firm was established in 1826 by John Burke (1786-1848), progenitor of a dynasty of genealogists and heralds. His son Sir John Bernard Burke (1814-92) was Ulster King of Arms (1853-92) and his grandson, Sir Henry Farnham Burke (1859-1930), was Garter Principal King of Arms (1919-30). After his death, ownership passed through a variety of people.
In 1877, the Oxford professor Edward Augustus Freeman attacked the accuracy of Burke's and claimed that it contained pedigrees that were "purely mythical - if indeed mythical is not too respectable a name for what must be in many cases the work of deliberate invention .... (and) all but invariably false. As a rule, it is not only false, but impossible .... not merely fictions, but exactly that kind of fiction which is, in its beginning, deliberate and interested falsehood."Oscar Wilde in the play A Woman of No Importance wrote: "You should study the Peerage, Gerald. It is the one book a young man about town should know thoroughly, and it is the best thing in fiction the English have ever done!" In 1901, the historian J. Horace Round wrote of Burke's "old fables" and "grotesquely impossible tales".
More recent editions have been more scrupulously checked and rewritten for accuracy, notably under the chief editorship, from 1949 to 1959, of L. G. Pine--who was very sceptical regarding many families' claims to antiquity: "If everybody who claims to have come over with the Conqueror were right, William must have landed with 200,000 men-at-arms instead of about 12,000."--and Hugh Massingberd (1971-83).