Our Surname

Peer into the past as we may, the beginnings of the name of Carr are not clearly to be seen. The genesis is shrouded in the oft referred to "mists of antiquity."

A similar name (Carre or Karre) is found in France and seems of considerable antiquity. Edson Carr dug up the information that a "karre was among those that went from France to the conquest of England under the great William. One of the early comers to Rhode Island and therefore one of the contemporaries of our early ancestors was a French Huguenot named Ezekiel Carre.

The name under several spellings was rather common in Scotland as early as the fifteenth century. Sir Walter Scott who was himself related to the family has much to say regarding the group. These references appear in the original notes to his "Lay of the Last Minstrel". He cites the varied spellings of the name as Ker, Kerr, Car and Carr.

On authority who made a lifetime study of surnames has, to my mind, the best light yet on how it all started.

He states that in the ancient 14th century records of England he found several references to persons who were known by their given name with the appendage "della carr". This word "carr" he states is a word of Norse origin meaning a low lying meadow. Thus "Robert della carr" meant Robert, who was from that particular sort of place. This points to our surname having originated in the same manner as did such other surnames as Hill, Lake, Brooks, Field etc. some remote, single names, ancestor resided near a distinct part of the landscape. In our case near a bit of bottom land known as a carr.

The name in America is not a common one yet a few are in nearly every city of the land. The spelling is settled down to the two forms Kerr and Carr. Every person of the name that I have ever contacted has been either recently or remotely from the British Isles. Excepting the recent arrivals the remainder of us belong in one of four family groups.

The first group, in point of arrival of the ancestor, are those descendant of the brothers, Robert and Caleb, who came to these shores in 1635 and set up in southern Rhode Island their lares and penates.

The second to arrive was George Carr who was at Ipswich, Mass. in 1638. He later removed to what is now Salisbury, Mass. and passed down the name to many sturdy descendants. The third group are the descendants of another pair of brothers. Thomas and Robert Carr hailing from the English Scottish border country settled in Virginia about 1700. This group have seemingly held more public office and achieved more individual prominence than any of the other Carr groups. The fourth clan go back to the Scotch Karrs, Bradbury and John, who about 1720 took up residence in New Hampshire, adopted the Car spelling of the name and carved from the wilderness homesteads which still stand as monuments to their worth and industry.

As indicated in the title of this work it is devoted entirely to the chronicalling of the lives and exploits of those who like myself derived their name from those parents somewhere beyond the sea whose sons, Robert and Caleb made the one way trip to America in 1635.

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