This interesting surname is of Anglo Saxon origin, and is topographical for one who dwelled by a wild apple tree. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "crabba-treow" meaning a crab(apple) tree. Topographical surnames, such as this, were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname was first recorded at the beginning of the 14th Century (see below), and one John Crabtree appears in the Poll Tax Returns Records of Yorkshire, dated 1379.On January 22nd 1559 John Crabtree married Margery Colton in St. Margaret Pattens, London, and on September 2nd 1635, Edward Crabbtree, aged 20 yrs., embarked from London on the ship "David" bound for Virginia. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was William Crabtree (1610 - 1644), a renowned astronomer, who jointly with Jermiah Horrocks observed the transit of Venus across the sun on November 24th 1639. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John atte Crabbetrywe, which was dated 1301, in the "Parliament Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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