- Recorded as Cran, Crann, Crain, Crane, and possibly others, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It was originally a nickname for a tall thin man, or someone with long legs, or some other fancied resemblance to the Crane bird. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Old English "cranuc", meaning a crane, and until the introduction of a separate word in the 14th century, also described a heron. Surnames from nicknames form one of the largest groupings in the surnames lists. They were mostly 'friendly' names, and those that were not, are now almost all extinct. This surname is one of the earliest on record and examples from the very begining of the medieval period include Jordan Cran in the Curia Rolls of Essex in 1219, William le Crane in the tax registers known as the Feet of Fine, also for Essex in1235. It is said that as both Cran and Crann the name is associated with Aberdeenshire in Scotland. Thgis county also strangely is said to have the highest concentration of Smiths, pro-rata to its population. The surname is first recorded in Scotland in 1243 with that John Cran, a royal gatekeeper, whilst Patrick Crane is recorded in Aberdeen in 1398. William Cran or Crann was the controller of customs tonnage and poundage for the port of London 1514. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert Crane. This was dated 1177, in the Pipe Rolls of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, known as "The builder of churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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