This distinguished surname, of early medieval Scottish origin, has an interesting and ancient history. It is of territorial origin from the lands of Cathcart in Renfrewshire, recorded as "Kerkert" in 1158. The first element of the placename is the British "cad" or the Gaelic "cath", battle. "British", in this case, refers to the extinct Celtic language of the ancient Britons. The second element "cart" clearly refers to the river Cart on which the place stands. The river name is extremely ancient, probably of pre-Celtic origin, and believed to be connected with the Indo-European "kov", hard, stony.In the vicinity of Old Cathcart are the ruins of Cathcart castle, near which was fought the battle of Langside (1568). The first known bearer of the name (below) who came to Scotland with Walter Fitzalan, ancestor of the house of Stewart, may, like his master, have been of Breton origin. He appeared in various charters as Reginaldus de Ketkert circa 1200, and as Ranulfus de Ketkert circa 1202. Sir George Cathcart (1794-1854), aide-de-camp to Wellington at Waterloo, and K.C.B. 1853, was one of the several notable bearers of the name. A Coat of Arms granted to the Cathcart family is blue with three cross crosslets fitchee issuing out of as many silver crescents, in chief a man's red heart ensigned with an imperial crown proper. A dexter hand couped at the wrist issuing out of a wreath, holding up a silver crescent, is on the Crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginaldus de Cathekert, which was dated circa 1178, in the "Register of Paisley Monastery", during the reign of King William "the Lion of Scotland", 1165 - 1214. 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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