Show ContentsCarswell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Carswell family

The surname Carswell was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Friù), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Carswell in the parish of Neilston in that shire, and later branched to Carnswell in the barony of Carnwath in Lanarkshire, and to Carswell in the barony of Hassendean in Roxburghshire.

"A family of Carsewells, who derived their name from Carsewell in the parish of Neilston, are said to have been settled in Renfrewshire for centuries, but they seldom appear in the public records. There is also a Carswell (in 15. cent., Creswell or Carswell) in the barony of Carnwath, Lanarkshire and there was a tenement of the same name in the barony of Hassendean, Roxburghshire. "

Alexander de Cressewell witnessed a charter by Roland of Galloway, son of Vchtred, c. 1200 and William Cresswell was Chancellor of Moray between 1281-1298. [1]

King Edward I's short lived invasion of Scotland was a difficult time for many including this family as Robert de Cressewelle was one of the Scots prisoners of war taken at Dunbar Castle in 1296. Symon de Cresseville of the county of Roxburgh, and David de Cressewelle of Lanarkshire rendered homage (to King Edward I) in 1296. [1]

Further to the south in England, the Hundreorum Rolls of 1723 list Richared de Carswall; (Dominus) de Carswill; and William de Karswill as all holding lands in Devon at that time. [2]

The Cresswell variant hails from Cresswell, Northumberland and there the name literally meant Cress-Spring dervived from the Old English caerse, cress + wiell (a spring: cp. Old English wiellcaerse, watercress) [3]

"The district comprises the townships of Cresswell and Ellington, the former of which was a possession of the Cresswell family previous to the reign of King John: the surface is generally level; and there is a good freestone-quarry. The old tower and mansionhouse of the Cresswells front the sea, and have in view the fine beach and sands of Druridge bay; the tower is 21½ feet long, and 16½ feet wide, within, and consists of a strong room vaulted with stone, on the groundfloor, and two rooms above, approached by a circular stone staircase. The new mansion, Cresswell Hall, the seat of A. J. Baker Cresswell, Esq., is a magnificent structure, erected in 1822." [4]

Early History of the Carswell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Carswell research. Another 60 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1373, 1557, 1560, 1567, 1569, 1572, 1583, 1603, 1623, 1625, 1654, 1670, 1684, 1688, 1709, 1710, 1711, 1712, 1713, 1715 and 1743 are included under the topic Early Carswell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Carswell Spelling Variations

The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years Carswell has been spelled Carswell, Cresswell, Carsewell, Cressville, Carswele, Kersewell, Cressewell, Chriswell and many more.

Early Notables of the Carswell family

Notable amongst the family at this time was

  • Richard Cresswell (1688-1743), was an English politician; Member of Parliament for Bridgnorth (1710-1713), and for Wootton Bassett (1713-1715); and John Caswell (Carswell) (1654-1712), was an English...

Carswell Ranking

In the United States, the name Carswell is the 4,368th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [5]

United States Carswell migration to the United States +

To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

Carswell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Carswell, who landed in New England in 1753 [6]
  • John Carswell who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1767 with his wife Anne, and his children George, Joseph, Thomas, and Rebecca
Carswell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Carswell, aged 30, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1824 [6]
  • Walter Carswell, who arrived in Mississippi in 1841 [6]

Australia Carswell migration to Australia +

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

Carswell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Allan Carswell, (b. 1797), aged 26, Scottish farm labourer who was convicted in Ayr, Scotland for life for uttering forged notes, transported aboard the "Commodore Hayes" in April 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1876 [7]
  • Mr. William Carswell, English convict who was convicted in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Equestrian" on 30th June 1845, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) [8]

New Zealand Carswell 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:

Carswell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Carswell, aged 25, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gipsy" in 1854
  • Miss Elizabeth Carswell, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Gipsey" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 25th October 1854, en-route to Nelson [9]
  • Mrs. Mary Carswell, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Gipsey" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 25th October 1854, en-route to Nelson [9]
  • Mr. Hugh Carswell, Scottish settler travelling from Clyde aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th October 1861 [10]

West Indies Carswell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [11]
Carswell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Carswell, who settled in Barbados in 1680 with his wife and servants
Carswell Settlers in West Indies in the 18th Century
  • Robert Carswell in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1716

Contemporary Notables of the name Carswell (post 1700) +

  • Frank Carswell (b. 1918), American Negro league baseball pitcher who played from 1945 to 1948 for the Cleveland Buckeyes, Negro League World Series Champion (1945)
  • William Brown Carswell (1883-1953), Scottish-born, American lawyer and politician, New York State Senator (1913-1916), Dean of Brooklyn Law School (1945-1953)
  • Sean Carswell (b. 1970), American writer and publisher
  • George Harrold Carswell (1919-1992), American jurist, Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1969-1970)
  • Dwayne Carswell (b. 1972), American NFL offensive lineman who played from 1994 to 2005
  • William Brown Carswell (1883-1953), American Democratic Party politician, Member of New York State Senate 6th District, 1913-16; Justice of New York Supreme Court 2nd District, 1925-53 [12]
  • James Stanley Carswell, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate in primary for Delegate to Michigan State Constitutional Convention from 13th Senatorial District, 1961 [12]
  • George H. Carswell, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, 1953-58 [12]
  • George H. Carswell, American Democratic Party politician, Member of Georgia State Senate 21st District, 1923-24; Secretary of State of Georgia, 1928-31 [12]
  • Donald Carswell (1882-1940), Scottish barrister, journalist and author
  • ... (Another 12 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  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. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  4. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 4th March 2021 from
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th May 2022).
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from on Facebook