Cairns Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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Cairns Origin:


Origin of Cairns:

This is a fascinating surname of Scottish provincial origin from the estate of Cairns in the church of Mid-Calder, Midlothian. The name derives from the old Gaelic “Carn” which means cairn, for example, a chunk of crystal arose as a border marker or a monumental. The surname first comes on record in the mid 14th century. In 1363, William de Carnys and his son, Duncan de Carnys, had a Charter of the baronies of Esterquytburne and Westirquitburne, and in 1365, Duncan de Carnys, recorded in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, was bailie of Edinburgh. William de Carnys was a police officer of Linlithgow Palace, and eventually of the palace Edinburgh in 1372. A notable name holder was Hug MacCalmont Cairns, (1819 – 1885), Barrister of the Middle Temple, 1844; Q.C., 1856. A National Symbol granted to the Cairns family represent an anchor among three gold martlets on a red shield. A palm tree is on the Crest, and the adage “Virtus ad aethera tendit” which means “Virtue influences to paradise.”


Some common variations of Cairns are: Carines, Cairins, Cairens, Cairons, Cairnos, Cairnse, Carinas, Cairnis, Carns, Cairness.


The surname Cairns was found in Midlothian, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, few say well before the Norman invasion and the entrance of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

The very first recorded spelling of the family was shown to be that of William de Carnys, dated 1349, a charter assistance, in the “Records of the Cairns Family”, Scotland. It was during the time of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 – 1371. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation. It came to be known as Poll Tax in England. Surnames all over the country began to develop, with unique and shocking spelling varieties of the original one.


People with the surname Cairns had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.

United States of America:

Individuals with the surname Cairns settled in the United States in two different centuries respectively in 18th and 19th. Some of the people with the name Cairns who settled in the United States in the 18th century included John Cains arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the year 1775.

Some of the people with the name Cairns who settled in the United States in the 19th century included William Cairnes who arrived in Allegany Division, Pennsylvania in the year 1803. Hugh Cairns at the age of 24 and John Cairns at the age of 36 arrived in New Jersey and New York in the same year 1812. Mary Cairns and Samuel Cairns arrived in New York, NY in the same year 1816.


Some of the people with the name Cairns who settled in Canada in the 19th century included Mr. Patrick Cairns at the age of 24 who emigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship “Broom” leaving from the harbor of Liverpool, England. But he passed away in on Grosse Isle in September 1847.


Some of the people with the name Cairns who settled in Australia in the 19th century included Hugh Cairns, Cause Cairns, Ann Cairns who all arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship “Recovery” in the same year in 1839. Ann Cairns at the age of 18, and Mary Cairns at the age of 21, a home servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 in aboard the ship “Bucephalus.”

New Zealand:

Some of the people with the name Cairns who settled in New-Zealand in the 19th century included G S Cairns landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840 and Ann Cairns arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “William Watson” in 1859. Adam Cairns arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Excelsior” in 1871. Patrick Cairns, aged 34, and Bridget Cairns, aged 33, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship “Strathnaver” in the same year in 1874.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Cairns: United States 6,903; England 9,577; Scotland 4,056; Australia 3,951; Canada 4,088; South Africa 3,415; Northern Ireland 1,741; New Zealand 1,359; Germany 504; Ireland 399.

Notable people:

Christine Anu was a pop musician and artist.

Leonard John Brass was a biologist.

Terence Cooper was a film artist and entertainer.

Charlie Dixon was an AFL football player at Port Adelaide Football Club.

Ben Halloran was a famous soccer player for Fortuna Dusseldorf.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Cairns, Scotland). Gu. three martlets or.
2) (Orchardtown, Scotland). Gu. three martlets within a bordure or.
3) Motto—Virtus ad aethera tendit. Gu. an anchor betw. three martlets or. Crest—A palm tree ppr.
4) Motto—Sub spe. Ar. three martlets az. on a chief gu. an acorn, betw. two mullets or. Crest—A bell az.
5) Ar. three martlets sa.
6) (Donoghmore and Killyfaddy, co. Donegal, and Monaghan, Ireland; descended from Cairnes, of Ordchartown, North Britain, settled in Ireland temp. James I.; Sir Alexander Cairnes, of Monaghan, was created a baronet in 1708; title extinct 1743). Ar. three martlets gu. within a bordure or.
7) (Etterton). Gu. three martlets or, within a bordure of the last.

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