Surnames are fascinating to me (as you probably can tell). I’ve covered both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ surnames in my family tree so far. Without further ado, here are the ‘Cs’. (again, I found all the surname information on surname database. and the crests were found scattered online. I do not claim any ownership of the crest images.)
Calder: This interesting surname may be of either early medieval English or Scottish origin, and is a locational name from Calder in Cumberland, or from any of the various places in Scotland called Calder or Cawdor. This is probably an ancient British (pre-Roman) name from ancestors of the Welsh “caked”, hard, harsh, violent, with “dwfr”, water, stream. Calder in Thurso, Caithness, is recorded in the early 13th Century in the form “Kalfadal”, and gets its name from the Old Norse “kalf”, calf, with “dair”, valley. The others seem to derive from river names, perhaps identical to the Cumbrian river name (above); however, the Old Norse “kaldr”, cold, may also be the source, or the Gaelic “call”, hazel, with “dobhar”, water. A Coat of Arms granted to the Calder family is a gold shield, a buck’s head erased attired with ten black tynes, within four stars and as many crescents alternately disposed orleways azure.
Cameron: This famous and ancient Scottish surname has two origins; firstly, as a Highland clan name it represents a nickname from the Gaelic “cam” meaning crooked, bent, plus “sron”, nose. Secondly, in the Lowlands it is normally a locational name from any of the various places so called, all of which show early forms such as “Cambrun”, and are named from the Gaelic “cam” plus “brun”, hill. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century. A Coat of Arms granted to a Cameron family is silver, three red bars within a blue border engrailed. The Crest is a dexter hand grasping a sword proper.
Campbell: This ancient Scottish name has its origins in a Gaelic nickname “Caimbeul”, meaning “wry (or crooked) mouth”, from “dam”, bent or crooked, and “beul”, mouth. That it was originally a nickname can be seen by a charter of 1447, which records Duncan le Cambeli, the first Lord Campbell, the “le” being the Scottish “lie”, meaning “so called”, or “known as”. Clan tradition has it, that the Campbells were originally known as “Clana Duibhne” or “O’Duine”, from one Diarmid O’Duine of Lochow. Campbell is the family name of the hereditary Dukes of Argyll, dating from 1445, and their Coat of Arms is described thus: “Quarterly, first and fourth, gyronny of eight gold and black, the Crest being a boar’s head couped gold”.
Carmichael: This interesting surname of Scottish origin is a locational name from the parish of Carmichael in Lanarkshire. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century, (see below). The present Carmichael is used as a translation or equivalent of the Gaelic MacGillemichael from the Gaelic elements “mac” meaning “son of”, “gille” “a servant” plus the personal name Michael.
Carr: This interesting surname is of English, Scottish and Irish origin, and has three possible sources, the first being a variant of Kerr, which is of Northern English and Scottish origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived near a patch of wet ground overgrown with brushwood. The name is derived from the Middle English (1200 – 1500) “kerr”, from the Old Norse “kjarr”. The second source is Irish, and it is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic “O’Carra”, the descendant of Carra, a byname meaning “spear”. The third source is also Irish, and it is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic “MacGiolla Chathair”, son of the servant of Cathar, a personal name derived from “cath”, battle.
Carrick: This is a very early Scottish locational surname. Recorded in the modern spellings of Carreck and Carrick, it originates from a district called Carrick in the county of Ayrshire. The place name derives from the ancient pre 10th-century Gaelic word “carraig” meaning “a rock”. The surname is one of the first ever recorded in Scotland, and certainly in its early days was of knightly noble status, with its name holders playing a significant role in the medieval administration of the country.
Carter: This is an ancient name, thought to be originally derived from the Celtic word “cairt” meaning “cart”. It is an occupational surname for a transporter of goods, with an elaborate history and derivation. There are four sources for the word, from the Latin “carettarius”, from “carrum”; from the Old Norman French “caretier”, surviving in modern French surnames such as “cartier”, from the Middle English (cart(e)”, derived from the Old Norse “kartr” or the Olde English “craet” and finally from the Olde French “charetier”, charioteer. All four of these sources have been merged to form the modern English surnames Carter and Charter. A very early Coat of Arms granted to a Carter family depicts two gold lions rampant combatant on a black shield.
Cary: There are, unusually, four distinct origins for this name, found as “Cary”, “Carey” and “Carye”. The first of these is of Welsh and Cornish origin, as a variant of the locational name “Carew”, from any of the minor places named from the Welsh “caer” fort, and “rhiw”, hill. The Carey family who has held the estate of Antony in Cornwall throughout the Middle Ages derive their name from this source. The second possible origin is English and also locational, from any of the places in Devon and Somerset so called from being situated on the River Cary, thought to be so named from the Celtic root word “Car”, meaning “love”, “liking” – so, perhaps, “pleasant stream”. The third source is French, and another locational name, from the manor of “Carrey”, near Lisieux, Normandy. Finally, Carey is an Anglicized form of the old Gaelic O’ Ciardha, the Gaelic prefix “O” indicating “male descendant of”, plus the personal byname Ciardha from “ciar” dark or black.
Cheney/Cheyne: This unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. The derivation is from the Old French “chesne, chesnai”, oak tree, oak grove, from the medieval Latin “casnetum”, and the surname may be either locational or topographical in origin. As a locational name, Cheyne may derive from any of the places named with the Old French “chesnai”, such as Quesnay in Calvados and La Manche, Le Quesnay in Seine-Inferieure, or Quesnay-Guesnon in Calvados. As a topographical name, Cheyne denoted residence near a conspicuous oak tree, or in an oak forest. In some few cases, the surname may have originated as a nickname for a man with a “heart of oak”. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is chequy gold and blue, a red fesse fretty gold. The Crest is a buck’s head erased.
Clement: This interesting surname, with over one hundred differing spellings ranging from Clemens, Clemons, and Climance, to Clemitt, Klima, Klimkiewicz and Miettinen, derives from the Roman (Latin) “Clemens” meaning “merciful”.
Cole: This very interesting English, Irish and occasionally Scottish surname was
originally a personal name. It is generally accepted as deriving from the personal name Nicholas, itself of Ancient Greek origins, or it may have derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century byname ‘Cola’, meaning black. This presumably denoted one of dark or swarthy appearance and may possibly have described a Dane or Anglo-Saxon. The Coat of arms originally granted in the time of King Henry V of England, has the blazon of a bull passant, within a black border, bezantee armed, in gold.
Coleman: This interesting surname is a Scottish variant of Coleman, which has a number of possible origins, the first source being of both Irish and English origin, from the Old Irish personal name “Colman”, from “Columban”, a compound of the Gaelic elements “colm”, a dove and “ban”, white, hence a “white dove”. This name was adopted by Scandinavians as the Old Norse “Kalman” and was introduced into Cumberland, Westmorland, and Yorkshire by Norwegians from Ireland. The second source is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and was given as an occupational name for a burner of charcoal or a gatherer of coal, from the Middle English (1200 – 1500) “coleman”, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century “col” (char) coal and “mann”, man. This source of the surname is the same as that of the surname Collier. Another possible source is also of English origin, from an occupational name for the servant of a man named “Cole”, Middle English a personal name derived from the Old English byname “cola”, from “col”, (char)coal, used to describe someone of a dark complexion.
Colles: Variant form of Cole/ Coleman.
Collinsworth: The surname Collinsworth was first found in Northumberland, in the town of Little Rye, from the homestead of Colingwood. The motto of this surname was ‘nil conscire sibi’ which means ‘to have a conscience free from guilt’.
Columbell: Recorded in many spellings including Collumbine, Cullabine, Collumbell and Cullombel, this is an English surname. It derives from the Old Irish name “Columban”, from the original Latin “columba”, meaning a dove.
Consterdine: This interesting surname, with variant spellings Cossentine, Consterdine, Considine etc., has two possible origins. Firstly, it could be derived from the medieval given name “Constantinus” meaning steadfast and faithful. It could also be, however, of Norman locational origin from Coutances in la Manche. It was given its name in honor of the Roman emperor, Constantius Chlorus, who was responsible for fortifying the settlement in 305 – 106 BC.
Converse/Conyers: This interesting and unusual name is a patronymic from “Conyer”, plus the diminutive suffix “-s”, son of. Conyers is of Anglo-Norman-French origin and is an occupational surname for a “minter” a coiner of money. The derivation is from the Old French “coignier”, meaning “to stamp money, to mint”, in Middle English “coin” and “coiner”, ultimately derived from the Latin “Cuneus”, a wedge, and used earlier to mean the die used to stamp money. There is also some indication that the name was applied as a nickname for someone thrifty and careful with money.
Cook: This distinguished surname, with forty entries in the “Dictionary of National Biography”, and having no less than fifty Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a cook, seller of cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century “coc”, ultimately from the Latin “cocus”, cook, and the surname has a particularly early first recording. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a gold shield with a red chevron between two lions passant guardant.
Cotton: This long-established surname, with variant spellings Cottam, Cot(t)on, Cottom and Coatham, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the several places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century “cotum”, meaning “cottages”, for example, Coatham in Nottinghamshire and the North Riding of Yorkshire; Cottam in the East Riding of Yorkshire and in Nottinghamshire (near Retford); and Cotham in Nottinghamshire (near Newark). A Coat of Arms granted to this family depicts a black bend between three pellets on a silver shield.
Craig: This interesting surname is of Scottish locational origin from any of the various places thus called, including Craig in North East Forfarshire, and Craig in South Ayrshire. The name derives from the Old Gaelic “creag” meaning rock, a word that has been borrowed in Middle English as “crag”. In some instances, the name may be topographical, from a residence by a steep or precipitous rock.
Crewe: This distinguished surname, having no less than ten Coats of Arms, and with several entries in the “Dictionary of National Biography”, is of Old Welsh origin, and is a locational name from Crewe, south-east of Chester in Cheshire, close to the Welsh marches. Recorded as “Crev” in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as “Cruue” in the 1288 County Court Rolls of Chester, the place was so called from the Old Welsh “criu”, weir (modern Welsh “cryw”, weir, ford). The reference here is to a wickerwork fence that was stretched across the river Dee to catch fish. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is an azure shield with a silver lion rampant, the Crest being a silver lion’s gamb, armed gules, emerging from a gold ducal coronet.
Croft: Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this is an English surname of pre 6th-century origins. These included a nickname surname for a smart, cunning person, deriving from the pre 7th-century word “craeft” meaning craft or skill. Secondly it may be topographical for someone who lived by a “croft”. This described a piece of enclosed land used for tillage or pasture. Thirdly there are several places in England called Croft and the surname may equally be locational from any of them. As an example, Croft village in Leicestershire was recorded as “Craeft” in the Saxon Chartulary of 836 a.d.. The word “craeft” means a machine, such as a windmill or water mill.
Culver: This interesting and unusual name has two possible origins, the most likely being an English metonymic occupational name for a keeper of doves, from the Old English pre-seventh Century word “culfre”, dove, from the Late Latin “Columba” a popular name among early Christians because the dove was considered to be the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The surname may also have originated as a nickname for someone who had a mild temper or someone of a mild and gentle disposition. The name is also found in “Culverhouse”, a doves’ house.
Curran: Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an Irish surname. It originates from the pre 10th century Olde Gaelic name O’Corraidhin, meaning “the male descendant of Corraidhin”, a personal name from “corradh”, a spear. The surname is numerous and widespread in Ireland both in its modern spellings forms and in the forms of O’Corrain or O’Currain.