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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, Welsh

Where did the English Ghan family come from? What is the English Ghan family crest and coat of arms? When did the Ghan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Ghan family history?

Ghan is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Ghan family lived in north Dorset and Cornwall area of England. The name is a reference to the family's tenure of residence in Caen, near Calvados, Normandy. The name is derived from the Old English word canne which literally means "a can or cup" but is used topographically to mean someone who lived in a hollow or deep valley. [1]


Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Cann, Caen, Can and others.

First found in north Dorset where Cann is a village and in 2001 had a population of 955. The Domesday Book lists Cann Orchard in what is now Cornwall, as land held by Aelfric, an undertenant of the Count of Mortain. At that time, there was land enough for two ploughs, two acres of woodland and ten acres of pasture. [2]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ghan research. Another 233 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 110 and 1100 are included under the topic Early Ghan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Ghan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Ghan or a variant listed above: Robert Cann who settled in Virginia in 1637; John Cann and his wife Mary, settled in New Jersey in 1664; Robert Cann settled in New England in 1679; Thomas Cann settled in Virginia in 1643.


The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Perimus licitis
Motto Translation: We perish by what is lawful.


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  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  3. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  4. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  5. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  9. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Ghan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ghan Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 29 January 2014 at 12:34.

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