Last name: Cairns

This interesting surname is of Scottish territorial origin from the lands of Cairns in the parish of Mid-Calder, Midlothian. The name derives from the Old Gaelic "carn" meaning cairn i.e., a pile of stones raised as a boundary marker or a memorial. The surname first appears on records in the mid 14th Century (see below). In 1363, William de Carnys and his son, Duncan de Carnys, had a Charter of the baronies of Esterquytburne and Westirquitburne from David 11, and in 1365 one, David de Carnys, noted in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, was bailie of Edinburgh. William de Carnys was Constable of Linlithgow Castle, and afterwards of the Castle of Edinburgh in 1372. A notable namebearer was Hugh McCalmont Cairns, (1819 - 1885), Barrister of the Middle Temple, 1844; Q.C., 1856; created Baron Cairns, 1867; lord chancellor, 1868, and Earl Cairns, 1878. A Coat of Arms granted to the Cairns family depicts an anchor between three gold martlets on a red shield. A palm tree proper is on the Crest, and the motto "Virtus ad aethera tendit", translates as "Virtue reaches to heaven". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Carnys, which was dated 1349, a charter witness, in the "Records of the Cairns Family", Scotland, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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Andrew Cairns

I just found a reprint of an old book about the Cairns family on Amazon, A History of the Family of Cairnes or Cairns and its connections, by Henry Cairnes Lawlor. Has anyone else seen this?
A History of the Family of Cairnes or Cairns and Its Connections [H. C. Lawlor] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A history of the Cairns/Cairnes family (McCairns, MacCairns ...

Jacob cairns

I'm a cairns and my family originated from Scotland but I was born in Leeds, England. But my grandad before he died got a personal ancestory specialist who found out my family came to Scotland as Vikings in the 9th century and eventually settled in Scotland and became cairns. I live in Scotland now though and it's amazing. But yeah apparently before cairns became a Scottish clan they were Vikings.

Andrew Cairns

That's pretty interesting Jacob, do you have anymore information on the viking connection? I'd heard that the Cairns family could be traced back to the mid fourteenth century, but I always wondered how they became so influential before William's first historical appearance in 1349. I thought they may have been Norman in origin. Anything you could share about William de Carnys origins would be great.

terry cairns

We are planning a trip to Scotland next summer to see the land our forefather's settled. We would be interested in getting together on meeting some of our relations. If you are interested email is tcairns thx

Allison F

One of my great great great grandmothers had the maiden name Elizabeth Cairns, her parents were Thomas and Nancy(born Nancy Williams), and Thomas' parents names were Thomas and Agnes Cairns.

Michael Cairns

My Grandmother's married name was Agnes Elizabeth Cairns - born 1914 deceased 1994

Jessica Cairns

Hi everyone, My grandparents, Stanley Cairns and Peggy Cairns moved to Winnipeg Canada from Nottingham England in the late 40's early 50's. My Grandfather Stanley was a Glider Pilot in the RAF during WWII and my Grandmother Peggy was a Red cross nurse in the war as well. My father Robert Cairns lived in Winnipeg, Canada from the time he was born, in 1956, until he was 16 and then moved with his family to the Toronto Canada area. I've never met another Cairns before but I find the family history fascinating and the fact that there are so many Cairns' out there amazing :)

Desiree Zass - nee Cairns
Hi, my maiden surname is Cairns, born in Cape Town, South Africa. My father was Constant Peter Cairns, born 03.09.23, died 20.08.02. My dad also served in SA Navy around 1944. He had a brother Norman, and sisters - Shirley, Isabella and Bertha. I am trying to find any record of my grandfather, he was William Cairns and my grandmother was Caroline Cairns. I think he was born +- 1888 and died between 1955 and 1960. If I have long lost cousins out there, would like to get to know you.

Sheila Cairns Robb
Hi all. I am a Cairns in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada & my grandfather Thomas & his brother Hugh came over here from Ireland. County Clo?!?!!?!? something. ( I haven't got the info in front of me right now). I remember hearing something about his uncle or great uncle Bill Cairns who liked his drink, but never met that person.

sandy cairns
hi Sheila my proper name is Paul Alexander Cairns ,born in Zambia ,lived in South Africa most of my life , I had a brother Bill cairns who passed away last week , i dont think it is the same Bill whom you are refering to as he was born is scotland in 1939 and spent most of his adult life in zimbabwe , he retired here in Scottland about 10 years ago .just to let you know

Gareth Cairns (Garríe Ó Ceiran)
Hi Jo. I am from Derry in Ireland. Thats exactly my name in Irish.,

Gareth , I am thinking of travelling to Ireland to further my research. My father's family all lived in Prince Edward Island Canada since the early 1800s in an area that has been settled by immigrants from County Monaghan. Do you know much about your family history. I haven't the foggiest idea of where to look in Ireland, although I have been told by some Irish friends it would likely be Nothern Ireland. who knows,perhaps we are distant relatives. Any infomation would be appreciated, Thanks, Joanne

Joanne Cairns Margeson
Hello I am a Cairns whose Cairns relatives came from Ireland to Prince Edward Island. We were always told our name and history was Roman Catholic Irish and originally spelled O'Ceiran? Anyone else come across this

I am married to a Cairns from PEI . My husbands father was an only child and
he said that they came from Ireland. His religion is RC. There are other Cairns
on PEI, but we're not related to them.

Patrick James Cairns

My father Alvin Walter Cairns was born in Cartwright Manitoba 1924. His father Edward Holland Cairns was born in Crappaud PEI. His father was Thomas Cairns born in Crappaud PEI. His father was James Cairns who came over from Derry in 1848.

helen janet cairns
my great grandfather was george cairns and was from newtown in belfast. he went to scotland and married margaret stewart rutherford in 1849. they migrated to australia in november 1849 arrivind in geelong, victoria ,australia in 1850. lived in skipton, victoria where he was the blacksmith. had 12 children, only 1 dying in infancy. had grandfather was charles william, father was lesley robert and i am helenjanet.

Colin Cairns Vic. Aust
Hi Helen Janet Cairns I too am a decendant from George and Margaret, we have never been able to find a marriage certificate for their nups.(have copy of Banns) George's father was a Robert with wife's name Mary. Do you have any info re this?.

My grandmother is a Cairns. She has lived in London, Toronto and Ottawa (all Ontario, Canada).

cairns grandchild
I am the great grandchild of Ralph Cairns Sr and Emma from northern Scotland. His son Ralph Cairns Jr. married my grandma Geneva and had 4 daughters, one of which was my mom Glenda Cairns. Sincerly, Kellan

Glenda Cairns/Pede - USA
Hi Kellan, I hope you get this message. I found it very interesting, of course, when I saw your mom's name. My dad's family are of Scottish origin, and, I believe his mom's family were too. Her last name was MacArthur. I would so love to know more of my family's heritage. If you have any information I'd greatly appreciate it. I was in Scotland, England and Ireland in 2011. I absolutely love the country there...BUT, I TOTALLY "fell in love" with Scotland. Reading the registers of fallen soldiers at the castle in Edinburgh made me sick to see so many Cairns'.

Michael Paul Cotter-Cairns
John Thomas Cairns from Belfast area married my nanna Blanche Cotter from Cork. He became a Catholic which was not popular with his Orangeman family. He sired 5 boys--Duncan my father being born 31March1916 as the youngest son. JTC Warrant Officer Class 2[BSM]...Royal Field Artillery died WWW1 28/05/1917. Blanche lived in Farnborough Hants where we grew up. She died there aged 91. Duncan & all my Cairns uncles bore the surname Cotter-Cairns as did brother Paddy&I& all my Cairns cousins. I would love to hear from anyone connected with the original Cairns family in Northern Ireland. Thanks in anticipation. Mike Cairns

Hi I'm a Cairns, was born in Scotland, now live in England, but all my family live in Northern Ireland

I am a Cairns born in Scoltand, but I was told my fathers family were from Warren Point. Any connectikons there? I think we were originally midlothian scots and immigrated to Ireland in mid 14/15 centuries, only to return maybe after ther potato famine, love to know!

I AM A CAIRNS BORN IN CARLISLE CUMBRIA eng my decendents on male side were from ireland who came over during photoa famine he married a scotish girl then they settled in carlisle,he sent for his brother and sister they ended up in the workhouse in witch his sister died in and was beried in a unmarked grave,we are prodestants by the way,but dont care as long as we aint catholics with the hipocrasy and track record.....


Hi Mike, My Name is Kathy (nee Cairns) born Belfast, Northern Ireland. My husband has been researching his family tree for over twenty years now and has managed to get back as far as 1795. A few years ago he started to research my Cairns family name and has had remarkable success being able to trace back to my 3rd Great Grandfather a Thomas Cairns. We have a marriage for a John Cairns (not your grandfather) and a Margaret Donaghay 18/11/1881 recorded in the Scottish marriage records. We believe their first-born child was a Duncan Morrison Cairns who was born 26/05/1882 in Scotland. There after we have John and Margaret appearing on the 1901 census of Ireland living in Riga Street, Shankill Ward, Belfast Co. Antrim Ireland. On this census their children are listed as Duncan M, Charles H, Elizabeth, Eveline, Alexander, Walter and Edith. Aside from Duncan whose birthplace is given as Scotland the remaining children have a birthplace of Belfast recorded. The birthplaces give for John and Margaret are Co. Armagh Ireland and Co. Down Ireland respectively. In the 1911 census the family have moved residence to 1 Mayo Street, Woodvale Ward, Belfast Co. Antrim, which was not a great distance from the 1901 residence but this address (1 Mayo Street) would be critical in tracing members of the family that did not appear on this or the subsequent 1911 census. In the 1911 census their children are listed as Charles Henry, Margaret Eveline, Robert Alexander, Walter Herbert and Florence Edith all the children’s birthplaces are given as Belfast City and again John and Margaret’s as Co. Armagh Ireland and Co. Down Ireland respectively. The 1911 census gather more information that previous census records such as for those married the years they have been married, the number of children born to this marriage and the number of children still living. For John and Margaret in 1911 they had been married 30 years had 9 children born with 9 still living. The most children we found in the 1901 census were seven so we were missing two children. Also the two missing in the 1911 census Duncan and Elizabeth were both married and living in their own homes. A while back when researching through a book “A Journey of Remembering - Book of Honour for Belfast.” I found on page 80 the following entry: Cairns, John – Battery Sergeant Major 50810 Royal Field Artillery 102nd Brigade Died in War on 28 May 1917 RAILWAY DUGOUTS BURIAL GROUND, Belgium 1 Mayo Street, Belfast. As mentioned above the address quoted in this extract was the address the Cairns family were living at in 1911 so we have made the assumption that this John Cairns (Your Grandfather) is one of the missing children. To date we have been unable to locate John in either the Ireland or Scotland 1901 censuses, nor have we been able to find a birth certificate for John. However on reading your forum entry we have found a marriage for John Cairns and Blanche Cotter 29 Nov 1904 at St James Church of Ireland, Belfast. Again John’s address was recorded on the marriage certificate as 1 Mayo Street, Belfast and his fathers name was John Cairns. Blanche’s address was recorded as 2 Bootle Street, Belfast and her fathers name was Patrick Cotter. Mayo Street and Bootle Street are very close to each other. We also have been unable to find John and Blanche on either the Ireland or Scotland 1911 censuses but reading between the lines I now suspect they may have moved over to England a fact that we are now trying to confirm. The link between yourself and me is that my Great Grandfather Charles Henry Cairns and your Grandfather John Cairns were brothers. This technically makes us 2nd Cousins x 1 removed. Would love to hear from you and if you had any family tree information you would like to share with us would be greatly appreciated. Kind Regards, Kathy

I am with Maynards Auctioneers in Vancouver and comeone has just brought in a Cairns familly letter rack complete with familly mottoe and palm tree crest. Worth checking out. Probably late 19th century. Hugh

Deborah Cairns
Hi This is your cousin in Canada, your cousin Billy in Scotland (uncle Joes son did an ancestry on our name and maybe your Grandad has a copy for you to see. Your Great Uncle Richard here in Canada was given one check it out with my uncle James your Grandad. Let me know okay! Deb