Courtnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Courtnay was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Courtnay family lived in Devon. The name, however, is a reference one of two areas bearing the name Courtenay in Normandy. The names of both of these areas derive from the Gallo-Roman landlord, Curtenus. [1]

Early Origins of the Courtnay family

The surname Courtnay was first found in the Gâtinais province of France, where they held the castle of Courtenay since the 10th century. They claim descent from the Counts of Sens and from Pharamond, reputed founder of the French monarchy in 420. However, historians have only been able to prove the line back to about the year 1020, in the Isles of France where they were descended from the great Emperor Charlemagne. The name was established by this trace only to the year 790.

Regardless of the earliest origin, in the mid-12th century, a branch of the family settled in England, where they obtained the barony of Okehampton and inherited the title of Earls of Devon in 1293. "This illustrious house is descended from Reginald de Courtney, who came over to England with Henry II AD 1151." [2]

Another source notes that Whitchurch in Devon was home to the family. "Walreddon House, here, the property of William Courtenay, Esq., a descendant of the Courtenays, earls of Devon, is an ancient mansion of the time of Edward VI., whose arms in the hall are still in good preservation." [3]

Wooton-Courtney in Somerset was another ancient family seat. "This parish takes the adjunct to its name from the Courtney family, who formerly held the manor." [3]

"The manor of Braddock [Cornwall] was at a very early period in the Courtenay family, in which it continued until the attainder of the Marquis of Exeter. In ancient times, St. Bennet's, when in a state of comparative magnificence, was long the seat of the Courtenay family, by a female branch of whom it was sold in 1710 to Bernard Pennington." [4]

Important Dates for the Courtnay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Courtnay research. Another 91 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1125, 1194, 1303, 1377, 1346, 1405, 1377, 1399, 1367, 1378, 1355, 1406, 1556, 1527, 1556, 1415, 1377, 1413, 1413, 1411, 1415, 1415 and are included under the topic Early Courtnay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Courtnay Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Courtenay, Courtney, Courtnay, Courteney, Courtny and many more.

Early Notables of the Courtnay family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Renaud de Courtenay (1125-1194), English nobleman from Sutton, Berkshire, progenitor of the Devon line; Sir Hugh de Courtenay (1303-1377), the 2nd Earl of Devon; and Sir Peter Courtenay (1346-1405), soldier, knight of the shire, Chamberlain to King Richard II (1377-1399), famous jouster, received the honour of knighthood from the Black Prince after the Battle of Najera in 1367, at the same time as his brother Sir Philip, 1378 on a naval expedition with his brother Sir Philip, the fleet was attacked by Spaniards off the coast of Brittany and Sir Peter and his...
Another 240 words (17 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Courtnay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Courtnay family to Ireland

Some of the Courtnay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Courtnay migration to the United States

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Courtnay or a variant listed above:

Courtnay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Courtnay, who settled in Boston in 1850
  • John Courtnay, who settled in Philadelphia in 1862

Courtnay migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Courtnay Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Timothy Courtnay a labourer, who arrived in St. Andrews, NB aboard the ship "Industry" in 1838
  • Bridget Courtnay, who arrived in St. Andrews, NB aboard the ship "Industry" in 1838

Courtnay migration to Australia

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

Courtnay Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Courtnay, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Caroline Agnes" in 1850 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Courtnay (post 1700)

  • David Courtnay Marr (1945-1980), British neuroscientist and psychologist, eponym of the Marr Prize

Citations

  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CAROLINE AGNES 1850. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850CarolineAgnes-Hydaspe%20RegisterOct15.gif
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