Recorded in several spellings including Cranson, Cranston, Cranstoun and Cranstone, this interesting surname is of Scottish origins, although well recorded in England. It is locational from the barony of Cranston, in the county of Midlothian, Scotland. The first element of the placename is the Olde English pre 7th century byname "Cran", meaning a crane bird, which was also used as a nickname for a tall man with long legs. The second element is the word "tun", meaning a fenced enclosure or settlement, where farming took place. During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname is first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), whilst Thomas de Cranystoun in the reign of King Alexander 11nd of Scotland, (1214 -1249), made a donation to the hospital of Soltre of some lands lying near Paistoun in East Lothian for "the welfare of his own soul and for the souls of his ancestors and successors". In London an early recording is that of Daniel, the son of William and Jane Cranstone, who was christened at the church of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, on December 22nd 1622. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a red field, charged with three silver cranes. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elfric de Cranston. This was dated 1190, in the collections concerning Scottish History, by Sir James Dalrymple. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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