Carver Surname Genealogy

Carver as a surname derived from the occupation – a
carver in wood or in stone (i.e. a sculptor), with the former being the
likely explanation.  The root of the name
the Middle English kerven, meaning
“to cut” or “to carve.”  Gerard
le Kerver was recorded in
Essex in 1209 and Richard le Kerver in Lincolnshire in 1275.
Carvers were not from England.  There
were Protestants who came from Flanders – Deryk Carver from Dilsun who
refuge in England in 1545 and John Carver who departed from Leidun for
America on
the Mayflower in 1620.  And
some came later from Germany or Switzerland with
like-sounding names such as Gerber (meaning “tanner”) that became
Carver in

Carver Resources on

Carver Ancestry

EnglandThe Carver surname seems to have first surfaced in East
Anglia.  The name looks to have then spread
north and
westwards (into Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lancashire) and
southwards (to Bedfordshire, London and the southeast).

Yarmouth in Norfolk had one concentration of Carvers.
Robert Carver, the emigrant to New England in
1638, had come from the village of Filby near Great Yarmouth.
Thomas Carver, born in 1711, was a tenant farmer with
a thatched cottage in Hardley, a village on the Norfolk Broads near
Norwich.  He had three sons – Thomas,
John, and James.  Some of their
descendants have remained in Norfolk, others have emigrated.

One family
line in Nottingham dates back to the marriage of William Carver and
Joan Walker
in 1696.  There has been some suspicion,
although no proof, that John Carver, the Mayflower
emigrant, came from Nottingham.

The Carvers were cattle and sheep farmers at
Ingarsby in fox-hunting Leicestershire in the 1700’s.
William Carver was living at his home there at
Old Ingarsby in the 1840’s.  One
branch of the family which had moved
around this time with the Creswells
expanded into other areas.
As a descendant Humphrey Carver recalled in his 1975 memoir Compassionate Landscape:

“In Gibraltar,
the Carver business prospered, shifting their attention from buying
port and
sherry for the hunt in Leicestershire to exporting cotton goods to
Morocco.  This then became Carver
Brothers, buying raw cotton in Egypt and exporting it to the Lancashire

Carver Brothers were based in Manchester, but
included Benjamin Carver in Gibraltar and Sydney Carver in
Meanwhile the line from cotton merchant Harold Carver,
who had worked for
Carver Brothers after World War One, led to
Field Marshal Lord Carver, a highly decorated combat
veteran of World
War Two who went on to hold the most senior posts in the British army.

was a second Carver family in Manchester based on cotton.
This began when two brothers Thomas and John
Carver, financed by their father William, bought the Hollins mill at
near Manchester in 1858.  It was Thomas’s
son William who married Kate Armitage, the daughter of another cotton
manufacturer,and then increased the family wealth substantially.  He was able to buy the stately home of
Cranage Hall in Cheshire.

The 1901 census
showed that William and Kate had three children and could afford to employ eight live-in servants – a
housekeeper, cook, nurse and
five maids.

Two of William’s sons died in World War One,
including Oswald, a rower who competed in the 1908 Olympics
(interestingly his
widow Elizabeth went on to marry Field Marshal Montgomery).   Joyce
Donald’s 1970 booklet The Carver Family
covered this family.

Sussex on the south coast
had the highest concentration of Carvers in the 1881 census.  There were two notable Carver families there,
one coming from the outside and the other apparently home-grown.

Deryk Carver was a Protestant refugee
from Flanders who came to Brighton, then a small fishing town, around
1545.  However, when Queen Mary came to the
in 1553, England was no longer a Protestant haven and Deryk was burnt
at the
stake.  Despite his death his descendants
remained a presence in Brighton in the following centuries.

Carvers were yeoman
farmers in West Sussex from about 1600 onwards, first at Sutton near
and then at Tillingham near Findon.  John
Carver was recorded as marrying Ann Scotcher at Sutton in 1679.  Much later, during the agricultural recession
of the 1830’s, George Carver departed Tillingham for a new life in
Canada.  Some of his letters home have been

SomersetThe Carver name has also cropped up in the Somerset village of Buckland Dinham
near Frome.  John Carver married Mary
Ayers in 1757 and ten other Carver marriages were recorded there in the
eighty years.  The progenitor of these
Carvers may have been John Carver who had moved there from Norfolk in
the 16th

Ireland.  Carver is an Irish surname
of uncertain
origin found almost only in the county of Cork:

  • Thomas Carver, born in Cork in
    the mid-1700’s, moved to Limerick where he operated a dairy farm.  His descendants returned to Cork.
  • Cornelius
    Carver, born in 1802, was a bookseller in Cork city.  
  • while other Carvers were to be found in the
    New Market area of Cork.  

All of these
families had Carvers who emigrated to New York or Massachusetts in the

America.  Not that much is known
about John Carver who came
on the Mayflower in 1620 and was the first
Governor of the Plymouth colony.  He
lasted less than six months in Plymouth and left no descendants.

Massachusetts There
were two Carver arrivals around 1638, Richard from Norfolk and Robert
uncertain origins. Richard settled in
Watertown but soon died, leaving only daughters.  Robert
made his home in Marshfield.  He was a
sawyer by trade.

Robert Carver had only one known child (named John), he had a number of
grandsons to continue the family name:

  • the
    eldest was William, born in 1659, who lived in Marshfield to the age of
    102.  The Marshfield homestead stayed in
    Carver hands until the early 1900’s.
  • Deacon Eleazer was born in 1668.  His
    descendant Eleazer migrated north to
    Vermont in the 1790’s.  This line was
    covered in Fred Carver’s 1971 book Genealogy
    of the Rev. Eleazer Carver Family.
  • and Ensign David was born in 1669.  He
    later moved to Weymouth and to Canterbury, Connecticut.
    His son Jonathan was an early explorer in the
    1760’s of the American West.  Carver
    county in Minnesota was later named in his honor.  

William Carver was a merchant mariner who was master of
a ship engaged in trade between the English port of Bristol (probably
native city) and the colonies.  His name
first appeared in Virginia records in 1659 when he patented land in
Norfolk county.  He got caught up in
Bacon’s Rebellion against the Governor’s rule in 1676 and was hanged
for his

However, William left descendants in Virginia, many of whom settled in
Albemarle county.  Richard Carver
migrated from there after the Revolutionary War to Spartanburg, North
and later Carvers settled in Georgia.
Morgan Carver meanwhile departed for Kentucky where he died in
1863 at
the grand age of 108. 

John Carver was a Quaker from
who came with William Penn on the Welcome
in 1682.  A maltster by trade, he took up
land at Byberry near Philadelphia.

“It was said that his
eldest daughter Mary was born in a cave on the site of Philadelphia,
the first
child of English parents in the province.”

John Carver’s farm
remained in the
family for five generations, descending from father to son (all of whom
named John) until 1864.

John’s brothers
William, Joseph and Jacob Carver arrived in Pennsylvania at around the
time as John.  Joseph married and moved
to North Carolina near Carvers Creek; Jacob died unmarried; while William traded in his farm at Byberry for land in Bucks
county.  His line was covered in Frank
Caligiuri’s 2018
book The Carver Family of Bucks County.

Other Carvers.
Two Mennonite Gerber
families from Switzerland came to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania around
year 1735.  Their name was often spelt
and, in many cases, became Carver.

Michael Gerber did become Michael Carver sometime
after his arrival in Pennsylvania in 1751.
His son Christian fought in the Revolutionary War and later
settled in
Ohio.  Christian’s sons Moses and Richard, born there, migrated by
covered wagon
to Missouri in 1838.  Richard later moved
onto Kansas. 

Moses Carver, however, stayed on in
Missouri as a plantation owner
and slave-holder.  He is remembered today
because of a slave on his plantation named George Washington Carver.  After slavery was abolished, Moses and his wife Susan
raised George and his brother James as their own children.
George later became renowned for his work at
Tuskegee University in his advocacy of crop rotation.
  Moses’s farm in Newton county is now known for its
George Washington
Carver National Monument.

Canada.  Nova Scotia has the largest
concentration of Carvers in the country today.

Christopher Carver had arrived in
Nova Scotia sometime in the 1830’s and made his home in Baker
Lunenburg county.  His son Hiram, born in

1841, was like his father a woodsman.  He
married Mary Baker and, in so doing, inherited the Baker homestead.  Carvers remained at the homestead until the

The Carver name had spread to Queens and Shelburne counties in Nova
Scotia by the time of the 1901 census.

Carver Miscellany

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

Carver Names

Deryk Carver was a Protestant martyr
who was burnt at the stake in Lewes in 1555.
John Carver
who arrived in America on the Mayflower
in 1620 was the first Governor of the Plymouth
colony.  He died less than a year later.
George Washington Carver
, born a slave,
became famous in America for his work as a botanist and his advice on

Michael Lord Carver
was a highly
decorated combat veteran of World War Two who went on to hold the most
posts in the British army.

Raymond Carver
was an American
short story writer of the 1980’s

Select Carvers Today

  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 12,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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