Recorded in several spellings including Carnew, Carnow, Carniaux, Carniau, Carneau, and possibly others, this is surname of French origins. In England it was a refugee name associated with the 17th century Huguenot protestants who fled France to escape persecution from King Louis X1Vth. He was the most prominent of the religious zealots who occupied the throne of France between 1580 and 1750, and who in pursuit of religous purity, virtually bankrupted the country, driving out many of the country's artisans, much to the benefit of the British Isles.The surname derives from the words charnier or carnier for which there are several explanations, but the most likely is that it was from the word 'carn' meaning a grave, and hence occupational for a grave digger. However it is one of the many words which do have different meanings in different parts of France, and it could also have described a butcher. In England early recordings from surviving registers of the city of London include James Carnew at the famous church for refugees of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on April 18th 1652, and that of Jacques Carneau at the French church, Threadneedle Street, on May 11th 1656, both during the "reign" of Oliver Cromwell, 1650 - 1658.
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