Cann History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Cann is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Cann family lived in north Dorset and Cornwall area of England. The name is a reference to the family's tenure of residence in Caen, near Calvados, Normandy. The name is derived from the Old English word canne which literally means "a can or cup" but is used topographically to mean someone who lived in a hollow or deep valley. [1]

Early Origins of the Cann family

The surname Cann was first found in north Dorset where Cann is a village and in 2001 had a population of 955. The Domesday Book lists Cann Orchard in what is now Cornwall, as land held by Aelfric, an undertenant of the Count of Mortain. At that time, there was land enough for two ploughs, two acres of woodland and ten acres of pasture. [2]

Early History of the Cann family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cann research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 110 and 1100 are included under the topic Early Cann History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cann Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Cann, Caen, Can and others.

Early Notables of the Cann family (pre 1700)

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


United States Cann migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Cann or a variant listed above:

Cann Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mr. Cann, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1624 [3]
  • Robert Cann who settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Thomas Cann, who settled in Virginia in 1643
  • Tho Cann, who arrived in Virginia in 1643 [3]
  • John Cann and his wife Mary, settled in New Jersey in 1664
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cann Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Rodrigo Cann, who arrived in America in 1817 [3]
  • Alex M Cann, aged 11, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1851 [3]
  • Ann Jane Cann, aged 6, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1851 [3]
  • Jane M Cann, aged 28, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1851 [3]

Canada Cann migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cann Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Arthur Cann, (b. 1883), aged 21, Cornish mason, from Bude, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 30th April 1904 en route to Toronto, Ontario, Canada [4]

Australia Cann migration to Australia +

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

Cann Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Cann, a leather-dresser, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Cann, a plasterer, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. John Cann who was convicted in Bideford, Devon, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Circassian" on 4th November 1832, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • John Cann, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "South Australian" in 1837 [6]
  • Mr. Zacharias Cann, (b. 1804), aged 40, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 1st August 1839, sentenced for 15 years for stealing horses, transported aboard the ship "Canton" on 20th September 1839 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Cann (post 1700) +

  • Howard Gardsell Cann (1895-1992), American sportsman, men's basketball coach at New York University, Olympic shot putter, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968
  • Ensign Tedford Harris Cann (1897-1963), American soldier awarded the Medal of Honor
  • William Cann, American politician, Farmer-Labor Candidate for Illinois State Senate 23rd District, 1922 [8]
  • Samuel J. Cann (b. 1954), American Democratic Party politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates, 1995-2013; Member of West Virginia State Senate 12th District, 2013- [8]
  • Mrs. Richard T. Cann, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Delaware, 1924 [8]
  • Margaret R. Cann, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, 1976 [8]
  • Carmine J. Cann (b. 1930), American Democratic Party politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Harrison County, 1961-68 [8]
  • Abraham Cann (1794-1864), English wrestler, baptised at Colebrooke, near Crediton, on 2 Dec. 1794, son of Robert Cann, a farmer and a wrestler in Devonshire, and his wife, Mary [9]
  • Sydney Thomas "Sid" Cann (1911-1996), English professional football defender and football manager
  • Jamie Charles Cann (1946-2001), English politician
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Mary L.  Cann (1867-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [10]
  • Mr. Cyril Rupert  Cann (1901-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [10]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Herbert R Cann (b. 1922), English Marine serving for the Royal Marine from Walthamstow, Essex, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [11]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Ernest Charles Cann (d. 1912), aged 21, English Third Class passenger from Penwithick, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [12]


The Cann 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: Perimus licitis
Motto Translation: We perish by what is lawful.


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  5. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 8th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/circassian)
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SOUTH AUSTRALIAN 1837-1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1837SouthAustralian.htm
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  9. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 31 Oct. 2019
  10. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  11. ^ 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 http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  12. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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