Show ContentsCambridge History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Anglo-Saxon England, the ancestors of the Cambridge surname lived beside a bridge over the river Cam. This surname originated as a local name for natives who came from the town of Cambridge. Cambridge was in both Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

Early Origins of the Cambridge family

The surname Cambridge was first found in Cambridge, a university, borough, and markettown in Cambridgeshire.

"This ancient town was the Grantan-brycge, Grantabricge, or Grante-brige, of the Saxon Chronicle, signifying "the Bridge over the Granta," the ancient name of the river Cam: by the substitution of cognate letters, the Saxon compound was altered after the Norman Conquest to Cantebrige, since contracted into Cambridge. The earliest authenticated fact in its history is its conflagration, in 871, by the Danes, who established on its desolated site one of their principal stations, which they occasionally occupied until the year 901. " [1]

John de Cambridge or Cantebrig (d. 1335), was an early English "judge, was of a Cambridge family, whence he took his name, and is said to have been son to Thomas Cantebrig, a judge of the exchequer under Edward II. He was M.P. for Cambridgeshire in 1321 and subsequent years, and earlier was in several judicial commissions for the county. In the last years of Edward II and early years of Edward III he is named as counsel in the year books. " [2]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Johannes de Cambrege as holding lands there at that time. [3]

Early History of the Cambridge family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cambridge research. Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cambridge History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cambridge Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Cambridge are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Cambridge include: Cambridge, Cambrigge, Cambrigg, McCambridge and others.

Early Notables of the Cambridge family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Cambridge Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cambridge Ranking

In the United States, the name Cambridge is the 12,464th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Cambridge family to Ireland

Some of the Cambridge family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Cambridge migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Cambridge or a variant listed above:

Cambridge Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Nicholas Cambridge, who settled in New England in 1664
  • Moll Cambridge who settled in Jamaica and Barbados in 1694
Cambridge Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Francis Cambridge, who landed in Virginia in 1711 [5]
Cambridge Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Capt. Cambridge, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • Mr. Cambridge, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]

Canada Cambridge migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cambridge Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Cambridge U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia On December 13, 1783 was passenger number 460 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [6]

Australia Cambridge migration to Australia +

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

Cambridge Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Cambridge, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" in May 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • Mr. William Cambridge, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Charles Kerr" on 6th June 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Owen Cambridge, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Gipsy Queen" in 1850 [9]

New Zealand Cambridge 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:

Cambridge Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Cambridge, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Bahia" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 7th December 1863 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Cambridge (post 1700) +

  • George Owen Cambridge (1756-1841), English churchman, Archdeacon of Middlesex (1808-1841)
  • Richard Owen Cambridge (1717-1802), British poet, father of George Owen Cambridge
  • George Francis Hugh Cambridge GCVO (1895-1981), 2nd Marquess of Cambridge, member of the Royal Family, known as Prince George of Teck unitl 1917 and later as Earl of Eltham from 1917 to 1927
  • Sydney John Guy Cambridge, Diplomat, Head of Financial Relations Dept. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, England
  • George William Frederick Charles Cambridge (1819-1904), British soldier
  • Ada Cambridge (1844-1926), Australian novelist

HMS Dorsetshire
  • William Cambridge (d. 1980), British Chief Petty Officer Writer aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [11]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. John H Cambridge (b. 1919), Welsh Sub-Lieutenant (E) serving for the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve from Towyn, Merionethshire, Wales, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [12]

The Cambridge Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Esse quam videri
Motto Translation: To be, rather than to seem.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 1st March 2022). Retrieved from
  8. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 1st February 2021 from
  9. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) GIPSY QUEEN 1850. Retrieved from
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  11. Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th),
  12. H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook