Cross Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Cross Meaning
The Cross surname appears to have been topographical,
describing someone who lived near a stone cross (kross
in Old Norse) by a roadside or in a marketplace.  From
the Latin crux it may also have had Christian cross
connotations.  However, the usual word for
someone who
carried the cross in church processions was Crozier.

Early spellings were de
Crucem in Lincolnshire and de Cruce in Oxfordshire in the 1273 rolls.  Crosse and Cross later emerged as surnames.  The Crosse spelling has faded away, although
Edmond Crosse did give his name to the Crosse & Blackwell food
brand in the
19th century.

Cross Resources on

Cross Ancestry

Guppy in his
1890 book Homes of Family Names in Great
had the following to say about the Cross surname:

or absent
in the northern counties and in the south coast counties.  Mostly
confined to
the east centre of England and to the adjacent coast counties between
the Wash
and the Thames.”

In this case he probably got it wrong.  The
1891 census showed almost 20% of the
Crosses in England were to be found in the county of Lancashire.  History also supported these Cross numbers in

Lancashire.  A Crosse
, thought to have originated in Wales, appeared at
Aught near Wigan in the early 1200’s.  Richard del Crosse came to
Liverpool in the early 1400’s.  His son John
Crosse was mayor of Liverpool in 1469.  The
family then held Crosse Hall in Liverpool and Chorley and the Ledsham

John Crosse name
recurred in Liverpool over the 16th and 17th centuries.
They were for a time a
Catholic recusant
They then took the oath of abjuration and had their
property and status
restored to them. Descendant lines were:

  • the Red Scar line in Preston, from whom came R.A. Cross,
    the British Home Secretary in the 1870’s.  
  • a branch of the family at
    Eccle Riggs in Broughton-in-Furness.
  • and there were also Crosses at
    Shaw Hill near Chorley.  

Unrelated was the Cross family of Bolton.  This
from a Scotsman named William Cross who had come south in 1785 and made
home in Nantwich, Cheshire.  His grandson
John married into the Kynaston cotton-spinning family.
Their son John Kynaston Cross inherited the
family business and later became an MP for Bolton.

.  There was another early
Crosse family, this
one based at Charlinch in Somerset.
Their numbers included:

  • Sir William Crosse who was killed at the Battle
    of Agincourt in 1415
  • Sir Robert Cross who fought with both Drake and
    Raleigh and was knighted in 1602 for his heroism at the time of the
  • while Crosses of the
    next generation departed for America (New England and
    maybe Maryland).

By this time the Crosse family back
Somerset had moved to Fyne Court in Broomfield.
Andrew Crosse, k
to locals in the early 19th century as Wizard Crosse, was an amateur
with a particular interest in electricity.
Ironically, the main hall of Fyne Court burned down

.  The Cross name figured in the fenland town of
Ely in Cambridgeshire.  One family record
there dated back to 1669 and the Ely baptism record for Elizabeth,
daughter of
Thomas and Ann Cross.  During the 19th
century Frederick Cross opened a bakery and confectionery shop, from
later came Ely’s first tea room.  Another
family line began with the marriage of Thomas Cross and Mary Butty in
Ely in

Scotland.  The Cross name in Scotland is associated
mostly with Glasgow.  Robert Cross was
one of five sugar merchants working in the 1670’s in the Gallowgate
area of
Glasgow.  William Cross was a seed
merchant there in the 1830’s.
His grandson Sir Alexander Cross started the
Cross Trust in 1943 “to encourage young people of Scottish birth or
to extend the boundaries of their knowledge of human life.”

The Cross name in Ireland was an English
implant, found primarily in Cork and Armagh:

  • Colonel Sylvester Cross, said to have been a Manxman, arrived with the English invaders in
    1599.   He was the father of Epinetus
    Cross, a Cork
    merchant who served as High Sheriff of Cork in 1680 and made his home
    Carrigrohane castle. 
  • while there was
    another Cross family in Armagh, beginning in Tynan parish around
    1611.  Their home was Dartan Hall.  Maxwell Cross of this
    family served as High Sheriff of Armagh in 1847.

and John Cross, possibly related, departed Ipswich in England for the
Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634 – Robert on the John
& Mary
and John with his wife Anne on the Elizabeth.

  • Robert
    made his home in
    Ipswich, Massachusetts where he farmed.  He
    had his problems with
    the law
    .  His son Stephen, a
    mariner, gave his name to
    Cross Island off the Massachusetts coastline.
  • while
    John settled in Methuen,
    Massachusetts.  Eight generations of
    Cross were said to have lived in his home there.  

John Cross, from Suffolk, arrived in
Wells, Maine in 1643.  He and his son
John were killed by Indians in 1676.

William Crosse
came to Talbot county, Maryland from London in 1663.
He was by some accounts a hundred years of
age when he died in 1679.  His
descendants settled in Baltimore in the early 1700’s.

John Crosse came as an indentured servant to
Baltimore county, Maryland in 1685.
Almost a hundred years later, in 1772, four Cross brothers –
Elijah, William and Zachariah – left Maryland for what would become
county, Tennessee.

Zachariah did not stay long.
He had married Easter Johnston, the niece of Daniel Boone, and
moved to
Kentucky.  One other branch, descendants
of Abraham, also settled in Kentucky, arriving there after the Civil
War.  Others remained.
Elijah’s son the Rev. W.K. Cross became known as the
Pioneer Mountain Parson
of Tennessee.

Australia.  Early Crosses in Australia
were convicts –
John Cross from Wiltshire on the First Fleet (the Alexander)
in 1788 and Charles Cross from Somerset on the Second
Fleet (the Neptune) in 1790.  Both
received their conditional pardons,
farmed and raised families:

  • John Cross settled in the Hawkesbury area of
    NSW.  John’s son David, born in 1799, built
    the Victoria Inn at Wiseman’s
    Ferry.  He outlived his son John Cross who tragically died
    on the
    Hawkesbury river in 1859.
  • Charles Cross meanwhile married in Parramatta six
    months after his arrival in Australia, one of the earliest convict
    there.  He farmed in Wilberforce,
    NSW.  He and his wife Rose raised six
    children there.  Charles died in 1835 at
    the good old age of 86.


Select Cross Miscellany

Crosse in Lancashire.  The early Crosses in Lancashire may have come from Wales.  Richard le Waleys (meaning the Welshman) was to be found at the village
of Aughton near Wigan in the early 13th century.  In
1210 he had erected a
horse-mill within the “Land of the Cross” of the Prior of
Burscough.   Henceforth the family
was to be referred
to as de Cruce.  The de Cruce
of the Latin deeds also appeared as de la
, atte Crosse and del Crosse.

Richard del Crosse,
first recorded in 1400, did well and acquired lands in Liverpool
Chorley.  Settling in Liverpool, he and
his successors had little further direct connection with Wigan.  In 1409 he was appointed Mayor of
Liverpool.  John Crosse, his son and
heir, followed him as Mayor of Liverpool in 1459.

John Crosse in Liverpool.  John Crosse of Crosse Hall at the bottom of Dale Street was
mayor of Liverpool in 1522.  He founded
the town’s first grammar school, “free for all children bearing the
name of Crosse,
and for poor children,” and endowed it forever.
Part of the Blue Coat school stood later on this site.

He also bequeathed
a small thatched house to the town.  The
thatched house is long gone.  But the
land is where Liverpool’s Town Hall now stands.

A descendant of John Crosse, also
named John Crosse and also mayor of
Liverpool, sought to build a wall in 1571 at the Dale Street end to
protect his
property from the ravages of the sea.

The Crosses were still living there in 1673.
A visitor at that time described Sir John
Crosse as living in a fine mansion on Dale Street.

Andrew Crosse at Fyne Court.  Among the many visitors to Fyne Court, it is said that William Wordsworth and
Samuel Taylor Coleridge both came to see Andrew Crosse.
Coleridge was the more likely visitor as
Coleridge Cottage was only a few miles away from Fyne Court In the

was also linked with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his
young mistress Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin after they had attended a
lecture by
Crosse in 1814 in London in which he explained his experiments with

seems to have had two very happy marriages. After his first
wife Mary Anne died in 1846, the 45 year old Andrew married the
beautiful 22
year old Cornelia Berkeley. It was largely due to Cornelia that we know
about Andrew Crosse.  She recorded his
life in detail in her books of Andrew Crosse – The
in 1857 and Red
Letter Days of My Life
in 1892.

his deathbed, Andrew changed his will, gifting
Fyne Court to his beloved wife Cornelia.
His eldest son John was left the organ from the music
room.  Following
Andrew’s death in 1855, Cornelia gave the estate to John.
Andrew is thought to have introduced John to
Lord Byron’s daughter Lady Ada Lovelace.
The two, who were married to other people, then embarked on an

Robert Cross’s Problems with the Law.  Around the year 1653 Governor
Bradstreet of Massachusetts entrusted Robert Cross, his father-in-law,
and a
friend with the custody of thirty ewes.
These sheep were turned over to the care of Cross’s two boys,
Robert and
Stephen.  The boys were possibly
careless.  They said that many of the
sheep had been killed by a great bear. Bradstreet
did not believe them and, four years later, sued their father
and grandfather.  Sons Robert and Stephen
were jailed and put in the stocks for their training day.

Robert Cross himself was very quick to
sue.  There were various legal
entanglements over the years, notably in 1664 when his daughter Martha
got into
trouble with a certain William Durkee.
Cross sued Durkee for abusing his daughter.
Durkee replied by suing Cross for withdrawing
his consent to the marriage after having given it earlier.
Soon afterwards William and Martha were duly

Around the same time his
servant Lawrence Clinton was courting Rachel Halfield, an aging Ipswich
spinster, who bought off his time (around three and a half years) from
for £21 and married him.  Clinton soon
deserted Rachel and departed for fresh pastures in Rhode Island.  Rachel’s family then sued Cross, accusing him
on conniving with Clinton to secure the Halfield money, and won the
case.  Cross appealed and did manage to get

Robert Cross ended up believing
he could get no justice in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
But later on Cross did make a point when he
sued Thomas Wells for slander for calling him a “cheating knave.”  The court forced Wells to make a public
acknowledgement to clear Cross’s name.

Rev. W.K. Cross the Pioneer Mountain Parson.  In a small cemetery in East Tennessee stands a tombstone with the following

William King Cross.
Known as W. K.  Born, July 18, 1814.
Died Oct. 18 1893
Aged 79 years, 3 months

W.K. was one of 12 children born to Elijah
and Catherine Cross.  When he was young
he was a wild and reckless fellow.  He boasted that he had had
fights than
any other two boys of his own size.  At
the age of 18, while attending a revival meeting, W. K. stepped out
from among
his friends and went to the mourner’s bench.
He held out his large brawny hands and said earnestly:

those broken knuckles, these broken
wrists?  I have fought for the devil all
these years.  Now I am going to fight for
the Lord.”

Cross, as he became,
married his childhood sweetheart Loozenia Gross and there were several
children. Financially the family was
poor.  Spiritually they were rich.  The parson was a giant physically.  Work to him was a pleasure.
He became a boatman, a mill-owner, and a
prosperous farmer.  He would often leave
his family on the farm to go and preach the Gospel, walking where he
could not
ride a horse.

he was in the
mountains of North Carolina holding a revival, the sad news reached him
his little girl had died. Then his son died.
And this affliction caused his wife’s death.
For a long time he was lonesome and
inconsolable.  But he finally decided to
resume his task, his appointed work, which was “to tell the story of
and his love.”

The tragic story of
his family he repeated wherever he went.
All in the audience would weep.
Many embraced the preacher.  Each
night a multitude would gather around the altar.  His
life, his sorrows, his sermons were
topics of general conversion long after the meetings ceased.

Later he married a second time. Children came
to replace the ones who had gone on.

old parson’s memory was clear until the last.  In the spring of
1893, the parson
told his family he would attend another camp meeting, for his health
failing fast.  On October of that year, he passed quietly away.
The crowd at his
funeral was one of the largest anyone in the area has ever seen.  He was buried in the cemetery near his old

The Tragic Death of John Cross.   The Sydney Morning Herald of July 9, 1859 had the following story:

“A gloom has been lately cast over the
Lower Hawkesbury in consequence of there being every reason to believe
John Cross, farmer, eldest son of David Cross, an old Australian
settler there,
met his death by drowning on Sundav morning last.

Cross was a passenger on the New Moon steamer from the
Hawkesbury to
Sydney. When outside of the heads, near the Long Reef, Mr. Cross went
about three o’clock in the morning saying he would have a look at the

was never missed till the vessel reached Sydney.  There
can be no doubt that he fell overboard
and was drowned. None of the seaman saw him, though it is believed
there were
several on deck.  So he must haye gone
over immediately after reaching the top.

Cross has left behind him a sorrowing
young wife and family.  He was taking 200
bushels of corn to market.”



Cross Names

  • Robert Cross was knighted by Queen
    Elizabeth for the role he played in the burning of the Spanish fleet at Cadiz
    and in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. 
  • R. A. Cross was
    a Conservative
    who served as British Home Secretary

    between 1874
    and 1880 and again in 1885. 
  • Alfred E Cross started his ranch, the A7 Ranche, in Alberta in 1885 and became one of the leading cattlemen of the Canadian West.
  • Stan Cross, American born, was a popular
    cartoonist in Australian newspapers from the 1930’s to the 1960’s

Select Cross Numbers Today

  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 26,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 21,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Cross and Like Surnames

These names are locational, describing someone who lived in those medieval times by the side of a bank, or by a barn or a lane or a shaw (which means a wood) or a wood and so forth.  Both the oak tree and the ash tree have in fact provided locational surnames – Oakes and Nash (from atten Ash).  Here are some of these locational surnames that you can check out.



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