Show ContentsCawnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Cawnay is generally thought to have been derived from the Old French word 'cornet', 'a wind instrument made of horn or resembling a horn' or perhaps 'a player of the cornet.' 1 2

Early Origins of the Cawnay family

The surname Cawnay was first found in Cumberland at Corney, a parish, in the union of Bootle, Allerdale ward above Derwent. 1

"The surface is boldly varied, and the scenery in many parts strikingly picturesque; the higher grounds command diversified prospects, and from Corney Hall is an exceedingly fine view of the sea and numerous interesting objects. On the lands of the Hall are several veins of iron-ore of very rich quality, but of limited depth, which were wrought to some extent about 80 years since." 3

The first records of the family were found in this area. Benedict de Corneye was listed in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire in 1260 and Robert Cornay held estates at Low Hall, Yorkshire in 1301. 1 The Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1332 listed Robert de Cornay, Lancashire; and Roger de Cornay, Lancashire. 4

Further to the north in Scotland, early records there revealed "a Sir Milo Corneth otherwise Milone Cornet appears in record about the close of the twelfth century and during the first quarter of the thirteenth he is designated prior of St. Germains in East Lothian. As Dominus Milo Corneht he was witness to the marches of Stobo about 1180. As Milone Comet he witnessed a grant of the old castle of Forfar by Robert de Quincy to Reginald de Arngentine c. 1200, and as Milone Cornet he witnessed a grant by Peter de Grame to the Hospital of Soltre between 1190-1238. In 1220 he appears again as a witness. About 1230 he is again a witness in a charter by Ade filius Edulphi to the Abbey of Neubotle. As Milone Corneth he witnessed a charter granted by Sayerus de Quincy, earl of Winchester, for the souls of King William, R. de Quincy, my father, and R. my son. To this charter the earl appends 'the seal of Roger, my son, the only one with me.' " 5

Early History of the Cawnay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cawnay research. Another 146 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1332, 1455, 1480, 1487, 1510, 1557, 1600, 1795, 1811, 1813, 1814, 1817, 1825, 1827, 1831, 1837, 1839, 1842, 1847 and 1848 are included under the topic Early Cawnay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cawnay Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Corne, Corney, Cornie, Cornay, Cornhay, Cawney, Cawny, Corn, Cornah, Cornall and many more.

Early Notables of the Cawnay family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Victor Cornette, son of an organist, born at Amiens 1795, a musician of indefatigable activity. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1811, and studied composition under Lesueur. He served in the band of the 'Grenadiers tirailleurs de la Garde Impériale' in 1813 and 1814, and was at Waterloo; was professor at the...
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cawnay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Cawnay family

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Cawnay or a variant listed above: the name represented in many forms and recorded from the mid 17th century in the great migration from Europe. Migrants settled in the eastern seaboard from Newfoundland, to Maine, to Virginia, the Carolinas, and to the islands..

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. 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) on Facebook