Blazons & Genealogy Notes
1) (Workington, co. Cumberland, bart., extinct 1664; “an ancient knightley family,” says Camden, “descended from Gospatric, Earl of Northumberland;” the heiress, Isabella Curwen, m. John Christian, Esq., of Unerigg Hall). Motto—Si je n’estoy. Ar. fretty gu. a chief az. Crest—A unicorn’s head erased ar. armed or.
2) (Cumerton, co. York). Same Arms, on the chief an escallop ar.
3) Same Arms, on the chief three escallops or.
Origin, Meaning, Family History and Curwen Coat of Arms and Family Crest
Origins of Curwen:
According to the early recordings of the spelling of the name, this interesting and unique name was listed in many spelling forms such as Culwen, Curwen, Kerwen, Kerwin, Kervyn, and Kerven, and often combined with the famous Irish surname Kirwan, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname of old and complex origins. It is locational and acquires from the hamlet of Colvend, originally Culewen, on the mouth of the River Urr, in Kircudbrightshire, in Scotland. In the spelling of Curwen the surname is English and Cumbrian, but also considered to acquire from the Scotland. The place name meaning and hence the surname is unknown, but perhaps an advancement of the Olde English pre 7th-century ‘col wincel’ or similar, the cold place. Being located as it is in the mouth of a river, this would seem to be a logical reason. Locational surnames were usually ‘from’ names, but in Gaelic regions the opposite used, thus giving rise to the advancement of the ‘clans’ in the old times. In this case examples of the surname records from those old times contain Gilbert de Culewen, a covenant witness for the Abbey of Holyrood in the year 1262, and Sir Thomas Culwenne, also a charter witness in 1289. In England, Gilbert de Colwenn noted in Cumberland in 1332, and Robert Curwen of Yorkshire listed in the Census Tax rolls for that district in 1379. Later records acquire from remaining parish records contain as Joyce Kerwyn, who married Richard Tompson at St Helen’s Bishopgate, London, in January 1580, Alice Kervyn, who married John Watkinson at St Mary Magdalene, London, in December 1588, and Catherine Kerwin, who married Nicholas Brown, at St Botolph’s Bishopgate, also London, in July 1766.
More common variations are: Currwen, Curween, Curen, Curren, Curwin, Crowen, Crewen, Carwen, Kurwen, Carwen, Corwen.
The origins of the surname Curwen appeared in Northumberland where people held a family seat from early times. Someone say better before the invasion of Normans and the entrance of Duke William at Hastings 1066 A.D. 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 varietions of the original one.
Many of the people with surname Curwen had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.
United States of America:
Individuals with the surname Curwen landed in the United States in two different centuries respectively in the 18th, and 19th. Some of the people with the name Curwen who arrived in the United States in the 18th century included Thomas Curwen, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1823.
The following century saw more Curwen surnames arrive. Some of the people with the surname Curwen who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included Joseph Curwen settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1797.
Here is the population distribution of the last name Curwen: England 957; United States 315; Australia 150; Canada 87; South Africa 73; France 61; Scotland 46; Luxembourg 20; Spain 8; New Zealand 7.
Anne Curwen (1889–1973), was a National General Secretary, YWCA of Great Britain.
Annie Jessy Curwen (1845–1932), was a writer of books of instruction in music and piano playing.
Christopher Curwen (1929–2013), was the Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service from 1985 to 1989.
Christopher Curwen (MP) (died 1450), was an English soldier, commander, and leader.
Curwen Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Curwen blazon are the fretty, chief, unicorn and escallop. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, argent and azure .
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries . Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone..
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli . Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” .
Fretty is a very pleasing patterning of the field whereby it is split into diamond shapes by overlapping and interwoven diagonal bands, where the background and the band colours may be any of the heraldic tinctures. . The family CAVE, from Kent are blessed with the simple arms of Azure, fretty or. Ancient writers, such as Guillim believed that the pattern represented a net and hence symbolised those skilled in the art of “persuasion”!
The chief is an area across the top of the field . It appears in many different forms and can itself be charged with other charges and ordinaries, , being treated almost as if it were a completely separate area. In its simplest form it can be clearly identified. Early examples include the award by Henry III of England to the knight Robert de MORTEYN BRETON of Ermine, a chief gules.
In the mediaeval period there was no real percieved difference between real and mythical animals, after all, much of the world remained unknown and who was to say what strange and magical creatures existed in distant lands? As heraldry developed a whole menagerie of imagined creatures came into being, and their various representations became more or less standardised in form and appearance. The unicorn is an intresting example that is still part of our own mythology today. The unicorn as illustrated on even the most ancient coat of arms is still instantly recognisable to us today, and shares many of the same poses that both lions and horses can be found in. . Wade, the 18th century heraldic writer suggested that were adopted as symbols because of “its virtue, courage and strength”.