Show ContentsCary History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Cary surname is thought to be derived from the manor of Carrey, near Lisieux, Normandy. Some instances of this name come from Welsh and Cornish origins and are variations of the name Carew. Most of the Irish variations of this name are Anglicized forms of the Gaelic O Ciardha.

Early Origins of the Cary family

The surname Cary was first found in Somerset, at Castle Cary, a market town and civil parish in south Somerset. The place dates back to at least the Domesday Book where it was listed as Cari [1] and later in 1237, the place was recorded as Castelkary. It is generally believed that the castle was built by Walter of Douai (c.1046-1107), a Norman knight. The place was named after the River Cary. [2]

John Cary (d. 1395?), was an early English judge, son of Sir John Cary, (d.1371), knight, bailiff of the forest of Selwood in Wiltshire, knight of the shire for Devon in 1362 and 1368. The young John Cary was created Chief Baron of the Exchequer 5 Nov. 1386, but two years later was impeached. "He was condemned to death, but the sentence having been commuted for one of banishment, he was transported to Waterford and confined within a circuit of two miles round the city. He died about 1395 or 1396. His estates at Torrington and Cockington, which had been confiscated, were restored to his son, probably in 1402." [3]

Again in Devon, we find "the extensive parish of St. Giles-in-the-Wood, so called to distinguish it from St. Giles-in-the-Heath, which lies on the borders of Cornwall, and which contains the manor of Cary, reputedly the original home of the Cary family." [4]

"Castle Cary probably derived its name from an ancient castle originally belonging to a lord of the name of Carey, which was defended against King Stephen by its owner, Lord Lovell, one of whose descendants having embraced the cause of the deposed monarch, Richard II., it became forfeited to the crown. " [5]

Also in early days, the family was found at Leppington in the East Riding of Yorkshire. "The Carey family formerly possessed a castellated mansion here, and a member of it was created Baron Carey, of Leppington, in 1622, but the title became extinct about the period of the Restoration. " [5] Other early records were found in Guernsey.

Early History of the Cary family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cary research. Another 93 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1205, 1242, 1348, 1645, 1662, 1393, 1288, 1524, 1596, 1575, 1633, 1622, 1629, 1580, 1666, 1608, 1677, 1610, 1643, 1615, 1688, 1624, 1658, 1634, 1663, 1659, 1663, 1656, 1694, 1681, 1689, 1693, 1694, 1633, 1610, 1643, 1610, 1622, 1621 and are included under the topic Early Cary History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cary Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Carey, Carrie, Carrey, Cary and others.

Early Notables of the Cary family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Carey, Baily of Guernsey; Henry Carey (circa 1524-1596), 1st Baron Hunsdon, an English army officer, diplomat, and politician, and a nephew of Anne Boleyn; Henry Carey, 1st Viscount Falkland (c. 1575-1633), an English landowner and politician, Lord Deputy of Ireland (1622-1629); Henry Carey, 1st Earl of Dover (ca.1580-1666), an English peer; John Carey, 2nd Earl of Dover (1608-1677), an English peer; Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland (c. 1610-1643), an English author and politician, he fought on...
Another 84 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cary Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cary Ranking

In the United States, the name Cary is the 2,670th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Cary family to Ireland

Some of the Cary family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 193 words (14 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Cary migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Cary or a variant listed above were:

Cary Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Cary, aged 17, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 aboard the ship "Primrose" [7]
  • Nicholas Cary, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1637 [7]
  • James Cary, who arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1639 [7]
  • Miles Cary, who arrived in Virginia in 1645 [7]
  • Francis Cary, who landed in Maryland in 1647 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cary Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Cary, who arrived in Virginia in 1700 [7]
  • Cornelius Cary, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [7]
  • Warren Cary, who arrived in Virginia in 1711 [7]
  • Eleanore Cary, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [7]
  • Jacques Cary, aged 40, who landed in Louisiana in 1719 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cary Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Isaac Thomas Cary, who landed in America in 1804 [7]
  • Lucius Cary, aged 30, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1812 [7]
  • Patrick Cary, aged 25, who arrived in America in 1821 [7]
  • States T Cary, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1849 [7]
  • T L Cary, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Cary migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cary Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Bernard Cary U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [8]
Cary Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mary Cary, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1838
  • Ellen Cary, aged 25, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1838 aboard the barque "Pallas" from Cork, Ireland
  • B I Cary, who landed in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862

Australia Cary migration to Australia +

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

Cary Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Cary, a sawyer, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. Jacob Cary, (b. 1819), aged 22, English convict who was convicted in Somerset, England for 15 years for house breaking, transported aboard the "David Clarke" on 3rd June 1841, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Miss Ellen Cary, (b. 1830), aged 28, Cornish needlewoman and housemaid departing from Liverpool aboard the ship "Northern Light" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 9th May 1858 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Cary (post 1700) +

  • William Sterling Cary (1927-2021), American Christian minister who was the president of the National Council of Churches (NCC) from 1972 to 1975, the first Black president in the council's history
  • Lott Cary (1780-1828), American Baptist minister
  • Diana Serra Cary (1918-2020), known as Baby Peggy, a major American silent movie era child star who made over 150 shorts for Century Studios and received 1.2 million fan letters in 1922, dubbed "The Million Dollar Baby" for her 1.5 million a year salary in 1924
  • Charles S. Cary (1827-1906), American lawyer, politician and railroad executive, Solicitor of the United States Treasury
  • Samuel Fenton Cary (1814-1900), American politician and prohibitionist, eponym of Cary, North Carolina
  • Phoebe Cary (1824-1871), American poet
  • Liam Cary (b. 1947), American Catholic bishop
  • Hetty Carr Cary (1836-1892), American wife of Confederate General John Pegram, best remembered for making the first three battle flags of the Confederacy
  • Glover H. Cary (1885-1936), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky (1931-1936)
  • Frank T. Cary (1920-2006), American businessman, CEO of IBM (1973-1981)
  • ... (Another 62 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Suggested Readings for the name Cary +

  • Senior Line of Virginia Carys by Boyd Balford Cary.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. 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)
  8. 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
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd June 2021). Retrieved from
  10. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from on Facebook