Origin, Meaning & Etymology
The surname Cartwright is an occupational surname denoting a person who earned a living making carts, from the Middle English word cart (transposed form of the Old English word craet, a form of the Old Norse kartr), meaning “cart” and the Middle English word wright (from Old Engliush wyrhta or wrytha), meaning “craftsman”. This makes the name similar to Wainwright (maker of wagons) and Wheelright (maker of wheels).
A second theory is that the name may derived from Cauterets, a location in Normandy, France, as there is a Cateray listed in the Roll of the Battell Abbey. There is also a tenant in chief listed in the Domesday Book named de Ceterith.
A third theory is offered as follows in the 1874 book, The Norman People: “Armorially identified with Cateryke, or Catherick (Robson). Catherick was part of the demesne of the Earls of Richmond, and the surname therefore probably arose from tenure of the office of Seneschal by a branch of a neighbouring family. The arms (a fesse) are those of the adjoining family of De Smythton or Eschalers, with three cinquefoils for difference, which were afterwards corrupted into ‘roses’, ‘Catherine wheels’, and ‘fire-balls with rays.’ Of this family Ilbert de Catherege, or Catherage (a form of Catheric), occurs in Normandy, 1180-98 (Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae); which shows the Norman origin of the family. A branch long remained at Stanwick, in Richmondshire, close to Catterick. Another branch was seated in Notts, and one in Cambridge; and the name there changed from Cateryke to Cartwright. Of the former branch was Major Cartwright, the celebrated reformer, and of the latter, Thomas Cartwright, the great Puritan leader, temp. Elizabeth.”
Some of the earliest documented bearer of this last name include John le Cartswereste who was recorded in 1275 AD in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershowe, Richard the Cartwrytte (Cheshire 1290 AD), and William le Cartewryght (Yorkshire c. 1300 AD). The Poll Tax of Howdenshire lists Robert le Cartwright in 1379 AD. The Poll Tax of Yorkshire lists three bearers in the year 1379 AD: Magota Cartwryght, Henriciis Wryght, and Geoggrey Cartewirght.
Cartwrights in America
Some of the first bearers of this surname to arrive and settle in colonial American include John Cartwright (Jamestown, VA 1624), Bethia Cartwright (Salem, MA c. 1620), Thomas Cartwright (Virginia 1639), Henry Cartwright (Maryland 1650), Demetrius Cartwright (Maryland 1657), Paul Cartwright (Virginia 1675), and Mary Cartwright (New York 1660).
Numerous members of this family served in the American Revolution, including Private Jesse Cartwright of Virginia, Sergeant Major Justinisn Cartwright, Captain Thomas Cartwright of Massachusetts, Corporal Christopher Cartwright of Vermont, Private Cyrus Cartwright of Connecticut, and Private Thomas Cartwright of New Jersey.
Several received land grants for their service: Private Jesse Cartwright (100 acres), Private Joseph Cartwright (640 acres), Sergeant Justinian Cartwright (467 acres), Private Robert Cartwright (640 acres), and Private Thomas Cartwright (640 acres).
Samuel Adolphus Cartwright (1793-1863) was a physician who joined the Confederate States of America during the civil war, working to improve sanitary conditions in camps around Vicksburg, Mississippi and Port Hudson, Louisiana. He was born in Fairfax, Virginia, the son of John a.
Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. (1820-1892) was a founding member of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club in the 1840s and is referred to be some as “the father of baseball”. He was the son of Alexander Cartwright Sr. (1784-1855), a merchant sea captain, and Esther Rebecca Burlock.
Richard Cartwright came to Albany, New York, from England in 1742 AD. He had a son named Richard Cartwright who moved to Canada, where he became a businessman, judge, and political figure in Upper Canada.
Cartwright of Norwell & Marnham
This family descends from Hugh Cartwright, who lived during the reign of King Henry VII (1485-1509). He was the son of Hugh Cartwright (c. 165-1512) who was born at Castle Ossington in Nottinghamshire. He married Matilda Cove and had three sons with her: William, Roland (ancestor of the Cartwrights of Aynho), and Edmund (had a son named George Cartwright Esq. of Ossington). Hugh’s eldest son, William Cartwright married Jane Leggatt and resided at Norwell and had issue with her. He is considered the progenitor of this branch of the family. Several generations down the line came George Cartwright, Esq. of Marnham, who served with distinction in the German wars, as Aide-de-Camp to the Marquis of Granby, and he spent 16 years of the coast of Labrador. He was an English army officer, trader, and explorer of Newfoundland and Labrador. He died in 1819 without a successor and was succeeded by his brother John, Esq. of Wyberton.
Cartwright of Aynhoe
This family descends from Rowland Cartwright, the second son of Hugh. Rowland had a son named John. John was of Aston, county Chester and he married Eleanor, daughter of John Shobridge, and he had a son with her named Richard. This son, Richard Cartwright, Esquire of the Inner Temple, purchased the manor of Aynhoe, and married Mary Egerton. He died c. 1637 and was succeeded by his son John. The family line continued for generations and was represented in the nineteenth century by William Cornwallis Cartright (born 1825), Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant, as well as Member of Parliament for Oxfordshire.
Sir Hugh Cartwright the Cavalier
Sir Hugh Cartwright, son of William of Ossington, was born in Nottinghamshire in 1594. William inherited Ossington upon the death of his uncle, Hugh Cartwright, in 1572. Sir Hugh was Lord of the manor of Assignton. He married and had a son named Christian.