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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Painter family come from? What is the English Painter family crest and coat of arms? When did the Painter family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Painter family history?

The distinguished surname Painter originated in Cornwall, a region of southwest England that is celebrated in the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. As the population of Europe burgeoned, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Despite the fact that occupational surnames are rare among the Cornish People, they nevertheless sometimes adopted surnames derived from the type of work they did. The surname Painter was an occupational name for a painter. Painter is an occupational surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Occupational surnames were derived from the primary activity of the bearer. In the Middle Ages, people did not generally live off of the fruits of their labor in a particular job. Rather, they performed a specialized task, as well as farming, for subsistence. Other occupational names were derived from an object associated with a particular activity. This type of surname is called a metonymic surname. The surname Painter comes from the Old English word peintour, which means painter.


Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Paynter, Painter and others.

First found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Painter research. Another 147 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 1540, 1594, 1637 and 1716 are included under the topic Early Painter History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 59 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Painter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Painters were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America:

Painter Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Edward Painter, who arrived in Virginia in 1622
  • Elin Painter, who arrived in Virginia in 1623
  • Elm Painter, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1624
  • Thomas Painter, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1630
  • William Painter, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1635

Painter Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • George Painter, aged 26, landed in Pennsylvania in 1738
  • Alexander Painter, who arrived in Virginia in 1765

Painter Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Joseph Painter, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815
  • Catherine Painter, who landed in New York, NY in 1845
  • James Painter, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872


  • John Painter (1888-2001), American who having died at age 112 years 162 days was (posthumously) recognized as the world's oldest man
  • William Painter (1838-1906), American inventor
  • Sidney Painter (1902-1960), American medievalist
  • Theophilus Painter (1889-1969), American zoologist, known for his work in identifying genes in fruit flies, awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal (1934)
  • Matthew Curtis "Matt" Painter (b. 1970), American head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers men's basketball team (2005-)
  • Curtis Painter (b. 1985), American NFL football quarterback for the New York Giants
  • John Mark Painter (b. 1970), American musician, best known for his work with his wife, singer Fleming McWilliams, in the rock and roll duo, Fleming and John and as composer for the film Hoodwinked (2005)
  • William Painter (1540-1594), English author
  • Robbie Painter (b. 1971), English footballer who has played since 1987
  • Marcos David Painter (b. 1986), English footballer who has played since 2005



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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  2. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  3. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  6. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  8. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  9. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  10. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Painter Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Painter Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 19 February 2014 at 09:41.

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