Cearns History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the name Cearns are found among the Strathclyde-Briton people of the ancient Scottish/English Borderlands. Cearns was originally found in Midlothian. The name Cearns is also derived from the Gaelic word carn, which means pile of stones, and referred to the stone burial chambers we now call cairns. [1]

Early Origins of the Cearns family

The surname Cearns was first found in Midlothian, in the lands of Cairns in the parish of Mid-Calder.

"The first of the name recorded is William de Carnys, who appears as a charter witness in 1349. Though this is the earliest mention of the name in record there must have been many of the surname living at an earlier date, as in the latter half of the fourteenth century many individuals of the name are mentioned in documents referring to the adjoining counties of Midlothian and West Lothian. In 1363 William de Carnys and his son, Duncan de Carnys, had a charter of the baronies of Esterquytburne and Westirquitburne from David II. Two years later David de Carnys appears as a bailie of Edinburgh." [2]

Early History of the Cearns family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cearns research. Another 271 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1372, 1386, 1395, 1406, 1431, 1455, 1401, 1408, 1418, 1430, 1452, 1454, 1503, 1572, 1639, 1665, 1732, 1673, 1743, 1669, 1707, 1703, 1707 and are included under the topic Early Cearns History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cearns Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that rules have developed and the process of spelling according to sound has been abandoned. Scottish names from before that time tend to appear under many different spelling variations. Cearns has been spelled Cairns, Cairn, Kairnes, Carnys and others.

Early Notables of the Cearns family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Cearns family to Ireland

Some of the Cearns family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 127 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Cearns migration to the United States +

Unwelcome in their beloved homeland, many Scots sailed for the colonies of North America. There, they found land and freedom, and even the opportunity to make a new nation in the American War of Independence. These Scottish settlers played essential roles in the founding of the United States, and the shaping of contemporary North America. Among them:

Cearns Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • E Cearns, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [3]
  • James Cearns, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1886 [3]

Australia Cearns migration to Australia +

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

Cearns Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Cearns, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Elphinstone" on 20th January 1836, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Cearns (post 1700) +

  • Wendy Cearns (b. 1960), née Griffiths, English former athlete who competed in the 400 metres hurdles, winner of the 1981 UK Championships and 1989 AAA Championships titles
  • Leonard "Len" Crittenden Cearns (1914-1993), Chairman of English football club West Ham United
  • William John "Will" and "Bill" Cearns (1882-1950), Chairman of English football club West Ham United and Managing Director of Wimbledon Stadium
  • Martin William Cearns (b. 1945), former chairman of English football club West Ham United
  • Alex Cearns OAM, Australian photographer, known for her pet, animal, and wildlife photography


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ 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)
  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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/elphinstone


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