Recorded as Cretney, but originally Cratney or Cratny, this is an English surname. It is almost certainly locational, although no such place in the known spellings has been discovered. This suggests that either the surname originates from a now 'lost' medieval village, or that the spelling has been transposed to the point where the source has not been recognized. Surnames from 'lost' medieval villages are a feature of the surnames listings of the British Isles, and it is known that over three thousand surviving surnames are from this source. As to why villages did disappear has been the subject of many books, but changes in agricultural practice and the drainage of the wetlands, along with the usual culprits of disease, plague, and even war, have all played a part. In this case the name suggests that it was from the pre 7th century Olde English 'creot' meaning gravel and 'eg' an island, which if true is supported by the drainage theory. Most parts of what is now East Anglia was formerly under water, with many thousands of island, some of which supported villages. The earliest known recording of this surname may be that of Isabell Cratny at the church of St Dunstans in the East Stepney, on May 25th 1596, whilst in 1788 at the famous church of St Clement Danes in the city of London, we have the recording of Thomas Crtney who married Sarah Elkins on May 16th of that year.
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