Show ContentsKarns History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Karns is derived from the Welsh word "karn," which means "a pile of stones," such as was often used to mark a burial site. The forebears that initially bore the name Karns likely lived by a notable heap of stones.

There may be a ancient Norman connection to the name as the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae notes "Robert and Geoffry le Caron, Normandy, 1180-95." [1]

Early Origins of the Karns family

The surname Karns was first found in Glamorganshire (Welsh: Sir Forgannwg), a region of South Wales, anciently part of the Welsh kingdom of Glywysing, where the "family claim descent from Ithel, King of Ghent, now Monmouthshire. Thomas o'r Gare, youngest son of Ithel, King of Ghent, was brought up at one of his father's seats called Pencarne (from pen, the head, and carne, a rock, a heap of stones), whence he was named Game, which continues the surname of the family." [2] [3]

Early History of the Karns family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Karns research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the year 1561 is included under the topic Early Karns History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Karns Spelling Variations

There are relatively few surnames native to Wales, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. Early variations of Welsh surnames can be explained by the fact that very few people in the early Middle Ages were literate. Priests and the few other literate people were responsible for recording names in official documents. And because most people could not specific how to properly record their names it was up to the individual recorder of that time to determine how a spoken name should be recorded. Variations due to the imprecise or improper recording of a name continued later in history when names originally composed in the Brythonic Celtic, language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, were transliterated into English. Welsh names that were documented in English often changed dramatically since the native language of Wales, which was highly inflected, did not copy well. Occasionally, however, spelling variations were carried out according to an individual's specific design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by minor variations. The spelling variations of the name Karns have included Carn, Carne and others.

Early Notables of the Karns family

Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Karns Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Karns Ranking

In the United States, the name Karns is the 7,088th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

United States Karns migration to the United States +

Many Welsh families joined their Scottish and Irish neighbors during the late 1800s and early 1900s in seeking refuge in North America. Like the Irish and Scottish, many Welsh anxiously awaited the work, freedom, and opportunities that they believed lay in North America. Those who did journey over to the United States and what became known as Canada often realized those dreams, but only through much toil and perseverance. Whenever and however these Welsh immigrants arrived in North America, they were instrumental in the creation of the industry, commerce, and cultural heritage within those two developing nations. In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Karns were found:

Karns Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Herman Karns, who landed in Arkansas in 1892 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Karns (post 1700) +

  • William E. Karns, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Orleans County, 1923 [6]
  • Samuel D. Karns, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from West Virginia, 1868; Member of Republican National Committee from West Virginia, 1868-72 [6]
  • Russell Karns, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Sullivan County, 1891-92 [6]
  • John M. Karns Jr., American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1972 [6]
  • John M. Karns, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Illinois 24th District, 1926 [6]
  • Harry J. Karns, American politician, Mayor of Nogales, Arizona, 1927-33 [6]
  • H. R. Karns, American politician, Candidate for Presidential Elector for Ohio, 1924 [6]

  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. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. 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)
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook