This interesting surname, of medieval Scottish origin, with variant spellings Cruickshank, Cruikshank and Crookshanks, though apparently a nickname for a bow-legged person, from the older Scots "cruik", hook or bend, plus "shank", leg-bone, is, in fact, of locational origin from residence by the river Crui(c)k in the former county of Kincardine (now part of the Grampian region). The river Crui(c)k, which rises in the parish of Fearn and joins the North Esk near the Kirk of Stracathro, is so called from the above element, probably with reference to the winding course taken by the river. The latter element "shank" is used here in the transferred topographical sense of a "projecting point of a hill joining it to the plain". One Christin Crukscank was mentioned in a foundation charter of the chapel of Urchany in 1334, and Cristinus Cru(k)sank was admitted burgess of Aberdeen in 1408. A Coat of Arms granted to the Crookshank family is three quarters gold and a quarter black, with three boars' heads couped counterchanged. A dexter (right) hand holding an ear of wheat proper is on the Crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Crokeshanks, which was dated 1296, burgess of Haddington, recorded in the "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland", during the reign of King John Balliol, "Ruler of Scotland", 1292 - 1296. 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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