This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from the lands or barony of Cranston, in Midlothian, Scotland. The first element of the placename is the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Cran", a crane, and was a nickname used to denote a tall, thin man with long legs, and the second element is the Olde English "tun" an enclosure, settlement; hence "Cran's settlement". 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). Thomas de Cranystoun in the reign of Alexander 11 (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". The surname can also be found as Cranston and Cranstoun. On December 22nd 1622, Daniel, son of William and Jane Cranstone, was christened at the church of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is red, with three silver cranes within a silver bordure invected, the Crest being a crane's head erased proper. The motto reads "I desire not to want". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elfric de Cranston, which was dated circa 1190, in "Collections concerning Scottish History, by Sir James Dalrymple", 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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