Carnish History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Carnish is a Welsh name that was first held when the Carnish family lived in the English county of Cornwall. As a general rule, the greater the distance between individuals and their homelands, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, people who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. Consequently, the name Carnish was not originally applied to a lifelong resident of Cornwall, but rather to someone who emigrated from Cornwall to another region. [1]

Early Origins of the Carnish family

The surname Carnish was first found in Devon, England where the "surname is derived from a geographical locality. 'the Cornish,' a Cornish man. We do not expect to find Cornish in Cornwall, but in Devonshire. Coming over the border the stranger would be called Cornish from the county he had left. Hence Cornish is rare in Cornwall and common in Devonshire. We may safely conclude that when we find Cornish in Cornwall the bearer has returned to the county whence his ancestors sprang." [2]

"The manor of Trevorick, [in St. Issey, Cornwall] on which the family of Cornish had their seat, was for several generations in their possession." [3]

"The Devonshire families of Cornish are now best represented in Newton Abbot and its neighbourhood. George Cornish was commander of one of the Bideford ships engaged in the Newfoundland trade in the reign of William III. " [4]

"In the parish registers [of Stratton, Cornwall] is preserved the following singular instance of longevity:-'Elizabeth Cornish, widow, buried March 10th, 1691. This Elizabeth Cornish was baptised in October, 1578. Her father's name was John Weale. She was when she died in the 114th year, having lived one hundred and thirteen years four months and fifteen days.' It appears by the register that in the year 1547, one hundred and fifty-three persons died in the small town of Stratton of the plague." [3]

Early History of the Carnish family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Carnish research. Another 116 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1375, 1450, 1465, 1523, 1685, 1677 and 1689 are included under the topic Early Carnish History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Carnish Spelling Variations

There are relatively few surnames native to Wales, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. Early variations of Welsh surnames can be explained by the fact that very few people in the early Middle Ages were literate. Priests and the few other literate people were responsible for recording names in official documents. And because most people could not specific how to properly record their names it was up to the individual recorder of that time to determine how a spoken name should be recorded. Variations due to the imprecise or improper recording of a name continued later in history when names originally composed in the Brythonic Celtic, language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, were transliterated into English. Welsh names that were documented in English often changed dramatically since the native language of Wales, which was highly inflected, did not copy well. Occasionally, however, spelling variations were carried out according to an individual's specific design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by minor variations. The spelling variations of the name Carnish have included Cornish, Cornishe, Corniss, Cornise, Carnish, Cornich, Corniche, Cornick and many more.

Early Notables of the Carnish family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was William Cornysh the Younger (also spelled Cornyshe or Cornish) (1465-1523), an English composer, dramatist, actor, and poet. His only surviving poem, was written in Fleet Prison. Henry Cornish (died 1685), was a London Alderman of the ward...
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Carnish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Carnish family

North America in the 1800s and 1900s saw the arrival of many Welsh people hoping to share in the wealth of land, work, and freedom that they felt North America held. Those who made the journey often attained those expectations, but only through an enormous amount of hard work, perseverance, and often a bout of good luck. These immigrants helped contribute to the growth of industry, commerce, and culture of both Canada and the United States. Discovered in the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Carnish: Samuel Cornish was one of the first settlers in North America, settling in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637; and James Cornish was the first Schoolmaster and Town Clerk in Westfield, Massachusetts..



  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  4. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.


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