Crow Surname

Crowe has two different origins as a surname, one from England and the other from Ireland.
The English Crowe came from the name of the bird (and the Old English crawa) and probably started off as a nickname of someone who resembled a crow, perhaps having particularly dark hair.
Crowe in Ireland, on the other hand, was the anglicized version of the Irish patronymic MacEnchroe – a name which came from the earlier MacConchradra, “son of Conchradra,” sept.
Both Crowe and Crow exist as surnames. Crowe is the more common today.
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England. Early Crows/Crowes came from East Anglia.

East Anglia The name John Crow appeared in the Suffolk Hundred Rolls of 1274. It is thought that he was part of the Crow family that made their money in Yarmouth out of shipping. Their home was Crow’s Hall at Debenham near Stowmarket. The family extended their estates to Brasted Place in Kent in the 15th century and later established themselves in county Galway in Ireland and, through Sir Sackville Crowe, in Carmarthen in Wales.

Other notable Crowes of the area were Robert Crowe of Swaffham and Charles Crowe of Coddenham. The latter served under Wellington in the Peninsular Wars and kept journals of his endeavors (which have been preserved). The Crowe name was also in the Mildenhall and Lakeheath areas of Suffolk.

By the 19th century, the largest number of Crowes in England was to be found in Norfolk. But Crowes (and Crows) stretched all the way along the East Coast – from Northumberland down to Essex.

Northumberland Crowes in Ashington, Northumberland has been traced back to the early 1600’s (these Northumberland Crowes may have some linkages with the Kent Crowes). Mitford Crowe of the family was governor of Barbados in 1707; while his younger brother Christopher became a country gentry in Yorkshire.

“In 1705, at the age of twenty-four, Christopher Crowe was appointed Consul at Livorno near Florence in Italy. He held the contract for providing the Mediterranean fleet with wine and oil, which earned him his fortune. He helped young men on the Grand Tour of Europe and became an agent supplying wealthy Englishmen with works of art.”
Christopher married well and bought Kiplin Hall in north Yorkshire in 1722. The house stayed with the Crowe family for the next hundred years.

Isle of Man. Crowe is also a Manx name, originating either from the Scottish McCraw or the Irish MacEnchroe. It first appeared in the Lezayre area in the 16th century. Many of the early Crows were clergymen, most notably Bishop Charles Crow of Ballachree. And many have been involved in stone masonry and in building. My own DNA test confirmed that I am in the GREEN Crow’s line. This line has had DNA test and is links back as far as Sir William Crow (c1547 – 1627) of the Isle of Man.  To see my DNA test and look at my tree click on the HERE.  You can find out more about the Manx at

Ireland. The names Crowe and McEnchroe in Ireland came from the MacConchradra sept, whose base was Thomond in the western part of the Inchiquin barony in county Clare. The clan motto of skeagh mac en chroe, or “Crowe thornbush,” has transposed into the present place-name of Skaghvicencrowe near Mount Callan in Clare.

Crowes settled in Clare or nearby Tipperary. The best-known Crowe was probably O’Beirne Crowe from county Galway. According to tradition, he was stupid and ill-educated as a boy. Yet he rose through diligence to be amongst the front ranks of Gaelic scholars.

One Crowe family in Galway was not Irish but came originally from Suffolk in England. The forebear of this family was a Richard Crowe. His grandson William Crowe married Emilia Eyre Evans in Galway in the 1720’s and Eyre Evans Crowe of this family later made a name for himself as a writer and historian in London. His son Eyre Crowe was a well-regarded painter; another son Joseph (and his son Eyre) noted diplomats. Another branch of this family emigrated to Nova Scotia.

There were also Crowes in Belfast who were probably English transplants as well; plus some in county Cavan of uncertain origin.

America. There are both Crows and Crowes in America. Some are of English origin, some of Irish origin, a few of German origin (possibly from the German Kroh), and some in fact are Native American – from the Crow nation of the Great Plains (it was the Indian chief Crow who gave the opening battle cry at the Battle of Little Big Horn).

Yarmouth on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and Yarmouth in England are connected through two Crowes (probably brothers), John and Yelverton, who were early settlers on Cape Cod in 1639. Curiously, John Crowe’s descendants changed the spelling of their name to Crowell (although it was still pronounced “Crow”). Their family history was traced in Thomas Crowell’s 1903 book, John Crowe and His Descendants.

Virginia and Maryland The Crow spelling was more common for those who entered via Maryland or Virginia and settled in the South. John Crow was one of the earliest arrivals in Maryland, marrying there in 1717 and settling down in Cecil county. The descendants of his son Walter were to be found in Delaware, Virginia and later in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Other Crows moved out to Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as south to Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.

However, Jim Crow was not one or any of these Crows. The name which tainted the post Civil War South came instead from a popular song rather than from a real person.

Heading West Crows also headed West. A Crow family from Tennessee was one of the first Mormons to arrive in Salt Lake valley in 1847. Rachel Crow, newly widowed, left Missouri with her family in 1852 and joined up with a wagon train heading for California. Much more reported has been the Crow emigrant train of 1865.

“The Crow train was a very large outfit under the command of Brad Crow. There were five Crow brothers and their families on the train. A great many other emigrants were also traveling with them. The Crows were bringing out forty jackasses from Missouri – big Maltese jacks – to raise mules on the San Joaquin River in California.”

Captain Crow arrived in California and founded the township of Crows Landing along the San Joaquin River. Crow descendants are to be found throughout California and also in Alaska.

Canada. James Crowe and his family set sail from Derry in Ireland on the Hopewell and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in late 1761. They were Ulster Scots. His family ended up settling in communities in which is Colchester county today. It is said that their descendants’ number as many as 10,000. Early settlers in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia were Thomas and Margaret Crow, who were married there in 1777. Crowes are still around there today.

Australia and New Zealand. William Crowe from county Clare in Ireland was an early arrival. He came with the 73th Regiment in 1810 and stayed, taking up land at Appin, NSW. His son James moved onto Gundagai in search of better grazing land. James and his wife Susannah raised fourteen children there.

Later Crowe arrivals from Ireland were:

  • John Walsh Crowe in 1853 from Knockaderran in Clare. His brothers apparently emigrated to America.
  • William Crowe in 1855 from Upper Kilbane in Clare. He moved to Victoria and did well for himself as a farmer, later venturing into politics.
  • Ned Crowe in 1881 from Tipperary. He and his wife Mary raised fifteen children in the Adelaide suburb of Queenstown.
    New Zealand boasts the Hollywood actor Russell Crowe and his cousins, the cricketers Martin and Jeff Crowe. Russell Crowe’s grandfather came from Wrexham in Wales and the book Where The Crowe Flies tells this family story.

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

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John Crow, recorded in 1274, may well have been the forebear of the long-standing Crowe family from Suffolk. Trammell Crow was an American property developer who created several famous projects, including the Dallas Market Center, the Peachtree Center in Atlanta, and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. Joe Medicine Crow is an acclaimed historian and author from the Native American Crow tribe. Russell Crowe is an Academy Award-winning actor from New Zealand. He won the award for his starring role in the film Gladiator. Sheryl Crow is a popular American singer/songwriter who blends rock, country, and pop in her music. She comes from Missouri.

Select Crowes Today

14,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
17,000 in America (most numerous in Texas).
14,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).

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