Cash Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Cash Surname Meaning

The Cash surname has a number of meanings, none of them having anything to do with money.

In Scotland, Cash was a small Fife place-name, meaning “steep-sided,” in the parish of Strathmiglo.  In England, primarily in Cheshire and Lancashire, it could have been an occupational name for a maker of boxes, from the Old English cashe meaning “chest box.”  And in Ireland, primarily in Wexford and Tipperary, it could have derived from the Gaelic epithet cas meaning “curly-haired.”

Cash Surname Resources on The Internet

Cash Surname Ancestry

  • from Scotland, England and Ireland
  • to America and Australia

Scotland.  Cash started out as a Fife place-name.  The two evidences of Cash as a surname were the Fife mariner William Cash, born around 1625, and the Edinburgh bookbinder Charles Cash who lived in the early 1700’s.

The name spread outside Scotland, probably though William Cash.  Descendants have included:

  • the American country singer Johnny Cash
  • possibly the English Conservative MP Bill Cash
  • and perhaps the Australian tennis player Pat Cash.

However, by the time of the UK 1881 census the Cash name was hardly to be found in either Fife or Edinburgh.

England.  The Cash name, from different origins, is a little more evident in England.  Even so, it is not that common.  The main concentration has been in Lancashire (notably in Chorley) and in Cheshire (notably in Stockport).  Moses Cash was born in Chorley in 1758.  Craig Cash is a comedian and TV script writer who grew up in Stockport

Ireland.  The two main places for the Cash name in Ireland have been Wexford and Tipperary.

Wexford had two notable Cash personalities of the 19th century.  The first was Martin Cash, born in 1808, who became famous in Australia as a bushranger.  The second was John Cash, born in 1832, the Wexford traveller and horse-dealer. He was also known as Cash the Piper as he was a celebrated piper of traditional Irish music.  His descendants have carried on his piping tradition and the Cash name is still to be found in the Travelling community.

In Tipperary the spelling could be Cash or Cass.  One Cash location was the village of Carrick-on-Suir in south Tipperary.  Three Cash brothers emigrated from there to Nova Scotia in the 1850’s.  Curiously their sons took on the name of Cass.  R.A. Cash was a local Carrick photographer who died in a house fire around the year 1917.

America.  William Cash the mariner from Glenrothes in Scotland and his nephew, also named William Cash, were the forebears of the largest number of Cashes in America.

The William Cash Descendants.  William Cash or Caishe the mariner was the owner of the ship The Good Intent which ferried pilgrims to the New World.  He himself made a home in Salem, Massachusetts and married there in 1667.  Cashes of his line were to be found on Cape Cod and later in New Hampshire, New York and elsewhere.

On one of William the mariner’s voyages in the 1660’s, he brought with him a favorite nephew William.  He at his uncle’s encouragement went to Westmoreland county in Virginia and settled there in 1673.

This William had the greater number of recorded descendants, first in Virginia and then after the Revolutionary War spreading across the country:

  • one line via William Cash, a Revolutionary soldier, who migrated to North Carolina and then in 1811 to Kentucky.  Milton Cash and his family left Kentucky for Texas in 1870.
  • another line via Moses Cash who was in Georgia by 1808.  His son Moses had moved to Arkansas by 1860.  And Arkansas was where the country singer Johnny Cash, the son of cotton farmers, was born in 1932.
  • and a line via William Thomas Cash – traced by Donald L. Cash in his Ancestors and Descendants of My Grandfather William Thomas Cash – which ended up in Illinois

Other Cash Lines.  John Cash, the son of a London carpenter, arrived in Maryland as an indentured servant in 1684.  After completing his indentured service he was able to purchase land in Prince George’s county.

His descendants migrated to Kentucky in the early 1800’s and have been at the Catholic community of Fancy Farm in Graves county from the late 1800’s.  Some descendants spelt themselves Kash.

Jonathan Cash was a later Cash out of Maryland.  Born there in 1801, he was in Ohio by 1825.  Two of his grandsons Jonathan and William fought on the Union side in the Civil War.  William had moved to Wisconsin in 1861 and subsequently served in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Australia. Martin Cash from county Wexford in Ireland was transported to Australia in 1828.  He ended up at the Port Arthur convict site in Tasmania.  In 1842 he managed to escape and embarked on a nine-month bushranger spree which ended with his capture.  He became famous later in life when his autobiography The Uncensored Story of Martin Cash was published.

Patrick and Thomas Cash, also from Wexford, came out to South Australia around 1860 to work at the Kapunda copper mine.  Patrick’s eldest son Thomas, born there in 1861, farmed at Kalka station, Victoria for nigh on fifty years until his death in 1939.  Thomas’s only son Patrick had died young in 1915, leaving a wife and two young children.

Cash Surname Miscellany

Cash in Fife, Scotland.   When the place-name Cash first entered the written record in 1294, it formed part of the shire of Strathmiglo in Fife held by the Earls of Fife.  It lay on rising ground and was already split at that time into Easter and Wester.  The combined lands of Easter and Wester Cash were quite extensive, with two miles separating Cash Mill on the east from Cash Cotton on the west.

Alexander Bickerton held lands at Casche with their grain-mill and waulk-mill in 1502.  Casche here had become Cash by the 1600’s.

Johnny Cash and His Scottish Roots.  This unlikely tale began in the late 1970’s when Johnny Cash was returning to the United States and found himself seated next to Major Michael Crichton-Stuart, the hereditary keeper of Falkland Palace in Fife on the east coast of Scotland.

Johnny mentioned that he had heard that his family originated in Scotland. Crichton-Stuart told the singer that he knew this to be the case since there were farms and streets in Fife that still bore the Cash name.

Inspired by the chance meeting on the plane, Johnny visited a genealogist and discovered that he was indeed of Scottish descent and that his clan had originated around the 12th century in the Strathmiglo area of Fife. The connection was traced back to when the niece of Malcolm IV (1153-1165), who was named Cash or Cashel, married the Earl of Fife.

The first American Cash connection came in 1667 when mariner William Cash sailed from Scotland to Salem, Massachusetts with a boatload of pilgrims.

Reader Feedback – William Cash Descendant.  My family are descendants of William Cash. Your information is accurate and true. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me to be able to pass this on to my family.

Shirley Guyton (

Sonny Cash the Tipperary Photographer.  Robert. J. Cash, born around 1876, was known as Sonny Cash or the ‘Crippled Photographer.’ He captured much of the Tipperary-Kilkenny border area adjacent to his home-town in his photographs.

Sonny, partially crippled in his youth, grew up to be hump-backed. He took to photography as a teenager and from his father’s shop in St. Carrick-on-Suir, travelled the Tipperary-Kilkenny countryside in a side-car, building up a large collection of local views, some of which he reproduced as postcards.  Sonny was one of the most prolific producers of postcards in south Tipperary at this time.

Sadly he with his mother and other family members perished in a domestic house fire in Carrick-on-Suir around the year 1917.

John Singleton Cash and His Mexican Adventure.  According to Audra Covington’s 1987 biography, John was the eldest of seven children born to Milton and Gabriella Cash.  He grew up in Texas and worked for a time as a cowboy there.  However, tiring of the life on the range, he started up a real estate business in 1907 with two partners.

Shortly afterwards, during a business trip to Mexico, he became involved with Pancho Villa, a Mexican bandit and guerrilla fighter who would be considered a hero to his people at the time of the 1910 Revolution.  From late 1907 John was reportedly helping him to obtain guns for his movement.  John was in fact briefly imprisoned by the Mexican Government in 1909.

Afterwards John returned to his family in Texas and started to work for a company selling “Post Home Farms.” Always a handsome man with a knack for dressing well (his trademark was a large white cowboy hat), he had an outgoing personality and prospered in the business.

In 1917 when World War One began, John told his family that he wanted to go into service and left his family again.  He never returned.  It was later learned that John spent some time around 1919 in Mexico as a sympathizer for the cause of Pancho Villa.  Sometime later he was apparently working at a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia.

Martin Cash, A Famous Australian Bushranger.  Born in county Wexford in Ireland, Martin Cash was brought up in a relatively well-to-do family.  In 1826 his life changed at the age of eighteen when, in a fit of rage, he shot at a man who was making advances at an attractive young woman he had befriended.  For this he was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia.  He arrived in Sydney in early 1828.

Cash somehow got himself involved in stolen cattle.  In 1837 a magistrate in Tasmania added two years to his original sentence plus an additional four years of hard labour at Port Arthur.  There he made repeated efforts to escape, being the first person in one escape to swim across the supposedly shark-infested Eaglehawk Neck.

Finally in 1842 he and two others did escape.  They began an eight-month spree of bushranging – robbing mail coaches, homesteads and inns.  However, Cash then became involved in a gunfight with a police constable who subsequently died.  He was found guilty of his murder and sentenced to death by hanging.  But a last=minute reprieve saw him sentenced to transportation for life instead at Norfolk Island.

There he was granted his ticket-of-leave in 1854, became a free man in 1863, and returned to Tasmania.  He died in his bed at his farm cottage in 1877, one of the few bushrangers ever to die of old age.

During the late 1860’s he had dictated his autobiography to a friend of his.  This account, although often embellished, provides an insight into convict life. It was later transcribed from the original manuscript, released as The Uncensored Story of Martin Cash, and became a best-seller of its day.

Cash Names

  • Martin Cash was an Australian bushranger who became famous when his autobiography was published in 1870.
  • Jack Cash was an American journalist best known for his 1941 book The Mind of the South.
  • Johnny Cash was the leading country music singer of the second half of the 20th century.  He was known for his deep baritone-bass voice and for his all-black stage wardrobe.
  • Pat Cash from Australia won the men’s single tennis championship at Wimbledon in 1987.
  • Bill Cash was one of the leading Eurosceptic MP’s in the British Conservative party in the early 2000’s

Cash Numbers Today

  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in Georgia)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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