This unusual and interesting surname has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Karus may be of early medieval English origin, and a variant of the more familiar Carus, itself a topographical name for someone resident in a house on wet ground or on a patch of land overgrown with brushwood. The derivation is from the Northern Middle English "kerr", ultimately from the Old Norse "kjarr", wet ground or brushwood, with "h(o)us", house. Early examples of the surname from this source include: Richard Carous (Westmorland, 1376), and Thomas de Carrehous, noted with Johannes de Carehuis in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire.In the modern idiom the name is spelt: Carus, Carass, Caress, Cariss, Carras, Carris and Carriss; Karres and Karus being more unusual variants. The second possibility is that Karus is of Polish and German origin, and a nickname for someone supposedly resembling a carp, from the Polish "karas", crucian carp. The name appears in Church Registers of Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland under the variant spellings Carus, Karas and Karus. On October 15th 1605, Johann, son of Christoph and Beata Karus, was christened at Chemnitz, Sachsen, Germany, and on March 2nd 1666, Matous Karas and Dorota Chalupecka were married at Silvice, Pribram, Czechoslovakia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Karhouses, which was dated 1332, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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