Painter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Painter originated in Cornwall, a region of southwest England that is celebrated in the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. As the population of Europe burgeoned, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Despite the fact that occupational surnames are rare among the Cornish People, they nevertheless sometimes adopted surnames derived from the type of work they did. The surname Painter was an occupational name for a painter. Painter is an occupational surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Occupational surnames were derived from the primary activity of the bearer. In the Middle Ages, people did not generally live off of the fruits of their labor in a particular job. Rather, they performed a specialized task, as well as farming, for subsistence. Other occupational names were derived from an object associated with a particular activity. This type of surname is called a metonymic surname. The surname Painter comes from the Old English word peintour, which means painter.

Early Origins of the Painter family

The surname Painter was first found in Cornwall where "Boskennal and Boskenna both belong to John Paynter, Esq.; but the latter, which formerly belonged to the Carthews, is his place of residence. This family of Paynter, which was originally of Deverel in Gwinear, and afterwards of Trelisick in St. Erth, has been settled here ever since the reign of Charles II." [1]

Early History of the Painter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Painter research. Another 74 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1540, 1594, 1637 and 1716 are included under the topic Early Painter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Painter Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and 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 of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Paynter, Painter and others.

Early Notables of the Painter family (pre 1700)

Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Painter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Painter Ranking

In the United States, the name Painter is the 1,460th most popular surname with an estimated 19,896 people with that name. [2]


United States Painter migration to the United States +

Painters were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America:

Painter Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Painter, who arrived in Virginia in 1622 [3]
  • Elin Painter, who arrived in Virginia in 1623 [3]
  • Elm Painter, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1624 [3]
  • Thomas Painter, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1630 [3]
  • William Painter, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1635 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Painter Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George Painter, aged 26, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1738 [3]
  • Alexander Painter, who arrived in Virginia in 1765
Painter Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Painter, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 [3]
  • Mr. Richard Painter, (b. 1821), aged 21, Cornish farmer departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Orient" arriving in the United States on 19 May 1842 [4]
  • Catherine Painter, who landed in New York, NY in 1845 [3]
  • James Painter, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [3]

Australia Painter migration to Australia +

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

Painter Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Aaron Painter, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "England"on 28th April 1826, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • William Painter, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Moffatt" in 1839 [6]
  • Mr. Thomas Painter, (b. 1799), aged 45, English labourer who was convicted in Abingdon, Berkshire, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Equestrian" on 25th January 1844, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island), he died in 1857 [7]
  • Mr. William Painter, English convict who was convicted in Buckinghamshire, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "China" on 146th January 1846, arriving in Norfolk Island, Australia [8]
  • William Painter, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Phoebe" in 1847 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Painter migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Painter Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Richard Painter, aged 31, a farmer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Fifeshire" in 1842 [10]
  • Sarah Painter, aged 21, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Fifeshire" in 1842 [10]
  • Alexander Painter, aged 30, a blacksmith, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Sarah Painter, aged 30, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Eliza Painter, aged 10, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Painter (post 1700) +

  • Matthew Curtis "Matt" Painter (b. 1970), American head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers men's basketball team (2005-)
  • Theophilus Painter (1889-1969), American zoologist, known for his work in identifying genes in fruit flies, awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal (1934)
  • John Mark Painter (b. 1970), American musician, best known for his work with his wife, singer Fleming McWilliams, in the rock and roll duo, Fleming and John and as composer for the film Hoodwinked (2005)
  • Curtis Painter (b. 1985), American NFL football quarterback for the New York Giants
  • Sidney Painter (1902-1960), American medievalist
  • William Painter (1838-1906), American inventor
  • John Painter (1888-2001), American who having died at age 112 years 162 days was (posthumously) recognized as the world's oldest man
  • George Duncan Painter OBE (1914-2005), English author, best known as the biographer of Marcel Proust
  • Robbie Painter (b. 1971), English footballer who has played since 1987
  • Marcos David Painter (b. 1986), English footballer who has played since 2005
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Charles Painter (d. 1912), aged 31, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [11]
  • Mr. Frank Frederick Painter (d. 1912), aged 29, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [11]


  1. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  2. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  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. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th April 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/england
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) MOFFATT 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Moffatt.htm
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 4th May 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/equestrian
  8. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 5th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/china)
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PHOEBE 1847. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1847Phoebe.htm
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 4th November 2011). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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