1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Burgess

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BURGESS (Med. Lat. burgensis, from burgus, a borough, a town), a term, in its earliest sense, meaning an inhabitant of a borough, one who occupied a tenement therein, but now applied solely to a registered parliamentary, or more strictly, municipal voter. An early use of the word was to denote a member elected to parliament by his fellow citizens in a borough. In some of the American colonies (e.g. Virginia), a "burgess" was a member of the legislative body, which was termed the "House of Burgesses." Previously to the Municipal Reform Act 1835, burgess was an official title in some English boroughs, and in this sense is still used in some of the states of the United States, as in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. The Burgess-roll is the register or official list of burgesses in a borough.