This is a Northern English locational surname, of late medieval origins. It derives from the Olde English "cweorn" meaning corn, and the Norse Viking "tveit" - a meadow or clearing. The surname, and all the early recordings, suggest that it derived from a hamlet or village called Cornthwaite or similar spelling, in Lancashire, but the place itself has completely disappeared. This is not in itself totally unusual, some five thousand British surnames are known to originate from now "lost" medieval villages, of whom the only reminder, is the surviving surname.The early church registers of the village of Warton in North Lancashire, include several examples of the surname. This suggests that Cornthwaite was near to Warton, and was probably a small hamlet or even a single farm, that was "cleared" under the Enclosure Acts of the 16th century. Under these acts the common lands were hedged or fenced off, and the tenants had no recourse other than to move elsewhere. When this happened these people took, or were given, as their (new) surname, the name of their former village. Register recordings include the marriage of Edward Cornethwaite to Elizabeth Waller at Warton, on October 18th 1593, and Hugonis Cornethwaite, christened at Warton on August 14th 1597. The earliest surname recording maybe that of Edwardi Cornthwett, which was dated July 5th 1592, in the church register of Warton, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603.
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