first used as a surname in the late 14th century in the West Riding
of Yorkshire, and the man who assumed it was John de Crabtre, a resident of
several other early records, one as far back as 1301, of persons in different
parts of England who were described as living near a crabapple tree, but there
is no evidence that any of these examples developed into a surname. The descriptions took the form of a first
name followed by ‘atte’, ‘de’, ‘at’ or ‘of’ Crabtre.
hundred years, there were variations in the spelling of the surname – Crabtre,
Crabbtree, Crabetre, Crabtrie, Crabtry, Crabtrey, Crabtrye and Krabtree have
all been found, the most common being Crabtre – but by the end of the 17th
century the variations had virtually disappeared. It is likely that these different spellings
can be attributed to the fact that none of the Crabtrees could then read or
write, and interpretation of the spelling was left to the local minister or
1400s and 1500s, the surname was almost entirely restricted to two small areas
of the West Riding, one on the west side in the Halifax and Bradford area, and
the other on the east side around Snaith.
There was also a toehold gained on the north-eastern side of Lancashire, but dispersion to the rest of the country was
saw considerable increase in the number of Crabtree families, including some
distribution of them through the middle part of Yorkshire. The growth in numbers in Lancashire
was also strong, still mostly limited to the north-eastern corner of the county. There were several appearances in other parts
of the country, including London,
but the numbers were limited to a handful of families.
Crabtree to emigrate to America
was Edward in 1635, but there is no record of his survival. At about the same time, John arrived in Boston, Massachusetts,
and with his wife Alice started a family line
that is still strong in New England today.
brought an even faster growth, still mainly concentrated in the counties of
Yorkshire and Lancashire. During this century, there were approximately
three times as many Crabtree baptisms in Yorkshire as in Lancashire, and three
times as many in Lancashire as in the rest of
the country combined.
was sparse in the 1700s. There were a
few who sailed to America, the most notable being William and Jane who settled
in Maryland about 1705 and gave birth to a family that multiplied and spread to
such an extent that many Crabtrees in the United States today can trace their
roots to this family. This century saw
the arrival of the first Crabtrees in Canada
when John and his daughter Sarah settled in Nova Scotia in 1767.
There is no evidence that any Crabtree line originated in Ireland and it
has to be said that the number of people to be found in Irish records bearing
the surname is small.
Nonetheless, the surname has cropped up since as early as 1665 when one
Thomas Crabtree, a victualler by trade, served as Keeper of the Public Records
in Ireland. This was a standard one-year
appointment. At the time, Thomas lived
on Fishamble Street in Dublin, close to the docks in the centre of the city.
During the next two centuries, several Crabtrees were stationed for
relatively short periods in Ireland as part of their military service, or were working
in other occupations. Some were married
there and brought up their children. The
most common location was Dublin, but there were a few who lived in other parts
of the country.
During the 18th century, two family lines of significant historical interest
emerged. They relate to John Crabtree
who, in 1767, was the first Crabtree to emigrate to Canada, and Hugh Crabtree
who was the first Crabtree to arrive in Australia - in the latter's case as a
man convicted for his part in the Carlow uprising of 1798 and transported in
1801. Hugh's wife and children were left
behind in Ireland. Both of these men
were born in Ireland, but it is not yet known where their ancestors originated.
Much work has been done by Nadine Crabtree in researching the family
name in Ireland and the results may be found on her website at http://www.crabtreesinireland.com.
DNA Project welcomes all participants. I
encourage you to join.
is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records,
which will help with our family history research. We shall discover which family trees are
related, and gain pointers as to where to focus additional research into
documented sources. You can see the
progress of the project to date by visiting www.familytreedna.com/public/Crabtree.
test tells you about your direct male line, which would be your father, his
father, and so on back in time. You must
be male to take this test, and you should have the Crabtree surname. Nonetheless, if you believe there is a
Crabtree or variant in your direct male line, although you have a different
surname, you are also welcome to participate.
If you are female, ask a male in your family tree to participate. I encourage males who order a y-DNA test to
order 37 markers, if possible. If you
order less markers, you can upgrade later, though this costs a little more.
test provides information for both males and females interested in learning
about their direct female line, which would be their mother, their mother’s
mother, and so on back in time. For this
purpose, you would order an mt-DNA test.
For matches in a genealogical time frame, order the mt-DNA Plus
test. Further information may be found
at www.FamilyTreeDNA.com, the
website of the company hosting this project, or you may contact me at the link
of Crabtree ancestors before the adoption of the surname, and indeed before any
genealogical time frame, is shown in the attached distribution charts based on
DNA analysis and interpretation - Crabtree distribution based on DNA analysis.
In 2004, I published a book describing the origins, growth and spread
of the CRABTREE surname from 1300 to 1800.
Entitled CRABTREE Dweller by the Wild Apple Tree, my book
examines many available records to trace the towns and hamlets where the early
Crabtrees lived, their trades and occupations, their levels of wealth, and the
rate and directions in which they spread.
I also surmise their lifestyles based on the social pressures over the
The book, which has been updated and reprinted in 2017, contains 360
pages, including eight colour plates.
All sources are referenced, and the book is fully indexed. The Foreword has been written by Dr.George Redmonds.
For further details, you can contact me using the e-mail link below.
Link to marriage
Send me an e-mail message
This page was first published on 18 November 1998, and was last
updated on 1 April 2020.
Additions since previous update:
marriage data completed up to December 1919.