Recorded in several forms, some very rare, and including Cairns, Ceairns, Cairnis, Carneis, Kairns, and Kairnes, this interesting surname is Scottish. It is of territorial origin from an estate known as 'The lands of Cairns', in the parish of Mid-Calder, county of Midlothian. The name derives from the Old Gaelic "carn" meaning a cairn, probably a stone or stones raised as a boundary marker or a burial memorial. The surname first appears on records in the mid 14th Century (see below). Early examples of early recordings include William de Carnys and his son, Duncan de Carnys, who held a charter for the baronies of Esterquytburne and Westirquitburne, from King David 11nd of Scotland, whilst David de Carnys, n the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland in 1365, was bailie of Edinburgh. William de Carnys was Constable of Linlithgow Castle, and afterwards of the Castle of Edinburgh in 1372. A notable namebearer was Hugh McCalmont Cairns, (1819 - 1885). A barrister of the Middle Temple, in London, he was created Baron Cairns in 1857, and finally Earl Cairns in 1878. A coat of arms granted to the Cairns family has the blazon of a red shield charged with an anchor between three gold martletsand the motto "Virtus ad aethera tendit". This translates as "Virtue reaches to heaven". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Carnys. This was dated 1349, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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