Select Carson Surname Genealogy

Carson is a name of Scottish origin, possibly from a long lost place-name.  The first record of the name occurred in Dumfries in the 13th century in the form of Acarson.  The Corsans or Carsans were a long-standing Dumfries family.

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Scotland.  Early Carsons were noted for their ferocity.  John a'Carson and his followers seized the castle of Dumfries in 1305.  They were to settle in Dumfries a hundred years later.

"Sir John Corsane, the next heir male, settled at Dumfries and was the head of a far-descending line which for eighteen generations presented an unbroken array of male heirs, all bearing the name of John."

These John Corsanes were provosts of Dumfries during the 1600's and wealthy.  John Corsane of Meikle Knox who died in 1777 was the last of this male line.  But the name Corsane or Corson, more often now written Carson, is still common in Dumfries.

Ireland.  Carsons migrated across the Irish Sea to Ulster at the time of the Scottish Plantations of the 17th century or later.  They settled first in county Tyrone and then spread to other parts of the province, especially to Antrim and Derry.  A number of these Scots Irish Carsons emigrated; and there is one family history which traces a Carson family from Antrim who made the reverse journey to Ayrshire in Scotland in 1873.  But many stayed.

A Carson family had moved to Dublin from Dumfries in 1815.  They were a wealthy Anglican family in Dublin during the 19th century.  Edward Carson of this family made his name as a barrister in the Oscar Wilde trial of 1895.  He subsequently became a politician, espoused Unionism, and led the Irish Unionist party between 1910 and 1921.

"In 1932, he witnessed the unveiling of a large statue of himself in front of the Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast.  The statue was unveiled by Lord Craigavon in the presence of more than 40,000 people.  The inscription on the base read: "By the loyalists of Ulster as an expression of their love and admiration for its subject."

America.  Carsons in America are most likely to be of Scots Irish origin. 

The most famous of them was the trapper and Indian agent Kit Carson, born in Kentucky in 1809.  His grandfather William Carson had arrived in America in the 1750's and received a land grant in Iredell county, North Carolina.  Robert Trennert's 2003 book Kit Carson and His Three Wives is a recent family history of the man. 

Another Carson, John Carson, preceded him.  He was an 18th century Indian trader who founded Carsonville in Dauphin county, Pennsylvania in the 1760's.

One family history traced the story of a Carson familiy from county Down who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1773 and later migrated to Georgia, Alabama, and then to Brazos county, Texas. 

Talk show host Johnny Carson was born in Iowa in 1925.  It was Marshall Carson, four generations back, who had made the move from Maine to Iowa in the 1870's and his forebear, Adam Carson, who had arrived from Ireland in the 1750's.

Canada.  William Carson grew up in Belfast and migrated to Canada via New York with his wife Anne in 1832. He bought land unseen on a bend in the Ottawa river called Gore of Lock Harbor.  The land must have been all right because he farmed and lived there until his death in 1874. 

John Carson was another Irish Protestant, in this case a tenant farmer from the Curragh in Kildare, who came to Quebec in the early 1830ís.  It is possible that he lost his first wife during the 1832 cholera epidemic in Montreal.  He married his second wife Mary in Montreal in 1834 and they moved to the English river area of Quebec around 1850.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Kit Carson was a 19th century American frontiersman.  Carson City in Nevada was named after him.
Edward Carson was the leader of the Irish Unionist party between 1910 and 1921.
Rachel Carson was an acclaimed American conservationist, the author ot the seminal work Silent Spring.
Willie Carson was English champion jockey four times in the 1970's.  He also rode four Epsom Derby winners.
Johnny Carson was an American TV host and comedian, the long-time front of the Tonight Show.

Select Carsons Today
  • 14,000 in the UK (most numerous in Northern Ireland)
  • 21,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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