Cain History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name Cain originally appeared in Gaelic as O Cathain.

Early Origins of the Cain family

The surname Cain was first found in Derry, where the name literally meant 'Cathan's Son.' "This name may be rendered 'warrior'(cath, 'a battle'). The O'Cathains, now O'Kanes, were of the race of Eoghan, who was son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Monarch of Ireland, who died A.D. 406." [1]

Saint Cainner or Cannera (d. 530?), appears in the martyrology of Tamlacht and other ancient lists of Irish saints on 28 Jan. "According to Colgan, she was born of noble parents in the district of Bentraighe (Bantry) in South Munster. " [2]

We would be remiss if we did not mention the English and Welsh origins of the name. In England, Yorkshire was a popular location for the family. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Johannes Cayne, Kirkby Overblow; and Johannes Cayne, Knaresborough. [3]

"Mauritius de Cadomo held lands in Barony, Devonshire, in 1083. William de Cadomo occurs in Norfolk, Walter de Cadomo in Norfolk, holding great estates, 1086. Renebald de Caen occurs in 1130 (Rot. Pip.). The family of De Caen, Caan, &c., is often mentioned later. In Normandy it occurs in the 12th cent. very frequently." [4]

In Wales, "Rhys Cain (16th cent.), was a Welsh poet of the latter part of the sixteenth century, born at Trawsfynydd in Merionethshire, a village on the river Cain, whence he took his surname." [2]

Early History of the Cain family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cain research. Another 147 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1196 and 1672 are included under the topic Early Cain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cain Spelling Variations

The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name Cain were encountered in the archives: Cain, Caine, Kane, Kain, Cahan, O'Cahan, Kean, Keane, O'Keane, Ceane, Cean, Kahan, O'Kean, O'Kane, O'Kaine, Kaine, Keann, Cainn, Cainne, Kainn, Cahann, O'Cain and many more.

Early Notables of the Cain family (pre 1700)

Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Cain migration to the United States +

In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Cain family came to North America quite early:

Cain Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Christopher Cain or Cayne who settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1639, died in 1653, he had two sons, Jonathon and Nathaniel
  • Claes Jansz Cain, who landed in New York in 1647 [5]
  • Charles Cain, who settled in Virginia in 1654
Cain Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Cain, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763 [5]
  • Peter Cain, who landed in North Carolina in 1764 [5]
  • Ernst Cain, who landed in America in 1780 [5]
Cain Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Cain, who arrived in America in 1803 [5]
  • Robert Cain, who arrived in America in 1805 [5]
  • Michael Cain, who landed in America in 1808-1809 [5]
  • Percival Cain, aged 19, who arrived in New York in 1812 [5]
  • George Cain, aged 32, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Cain migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cain Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Barnabas Cain U.E. who settled in Home District, [Niagara], Lincoln County, Ontario c. 1783 [6]
  • Mr. Barnabas Cain U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]
  • Private Isaiah Cain U.E. (b. 1737) who settled in Yonge [Toronto], Ontario c. 1783 he enlisted in 1763 served as part of Captain Richard Rea's Company of New Yorkers from Dutchess County, he died in 1813 [6]
  • Mr. John Cain U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]
  • Mr. John Cain U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cain Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Richard Cain, who settled in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland in 1800 [7]
  • Mary Cain from county Kilkenny was married at St. John's, Newfoundland in 1813 [7]
  • Joseph Cain in Greenspond, Newfoundland in 1819 [7]
  • James Cain, who settled in King's Cove, Newfoundland in 1821 [7]
  • Peter Cain, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1825
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Cain migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Cain Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Martin Cain, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Porter" in 1839 [8]
  • Margaret Cain, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Porter" in 1839 [8]
  • Thomas Cain, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Porter" in 1839 [8]
  • Jane Cain, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Porter" in 1839 [8]
  • John Cain, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Porter" in 1839 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Cain migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Cain Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • W Cain, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1842
  • Mr. Robert Cain, British settler, as the 2nd Detachment of New Zealand Corps of Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Minerva" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th October 1847 [9]
  • Mr. John Cain, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Grasmere" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th May 1855 [9]
  • Mr. Joseph Cain, British settler travelling from Liverpool aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th October 1859 [9]
  • John Cain, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Cain (post 1700) +

  • Herman Cain (1945-2020), American business executive, syndicated columnist, and Tea Party activist, CEO of Godfather's Pizza (1986-1996), Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha Branch (1989-1991)
  • James Mallahan Cain (1892-1977), American author and journalist
  • Matthew Thomas Cain (b. 1984), American Major League Baseball player
  • Dean George Cain (b. 1966), American actor
  • James B. Cain, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, credited with 8½ aerial victories
  • John Cain (1931-2019), Australian politician, the 41st Premier of Victoria (1982-1990)
  • Ashley Thomas Cain (b. 1990), English footballer
  • Major Robert Henry Cain (1909-1974), British Soldier awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII [10]
  • Elizabeth "Liz" Cain (b. 1962), former Australian pair skater
  • Herbert James Cain (1912-1982), Canadian professional ice hockey left winger

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Dominic Cain, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [11]
  • Mr. Henry Cain, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [11]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Thomas Cain, English Fireman from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking and was recovered [12]


Suggested Readings for the name Cain +

  • 478 "A History of our Cain Family of Virginia, Alabama and Tennessee".

  1. ^ Moore, A.W., Manx Names. London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1906. Print
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PORTER 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Porter.gif
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ World War 2 Awards.com - CAIN, Robert. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Robert Cain. Retrieved from http://www.ww2awards.com/person/22
  11. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  12. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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