Cruise Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Cruise Surname Meaning

The surname is probably derived from the Norman word cruz meaning “cross.”  Alternatively it could have derived from a similar-spelt place name, either in Flanders or Normandy.

The name appeared in Devon as Cruwes and Cruwys; and in Ireland, after the Anglo-Norman invasion, as Cruys and later as Cruise. Other spellings have been Cruse and Crews. The pronunciation has always tended to be “cruise.”

Cruise Surname Resources on The Internet

Cruise and Cruwys Surname Ancestry

  • from Ireland (Leinster) and SW England
  • to America

IrelandThe Anglo-Norman name de Cruys began to appear in Irish administrative records around the year 1200, although Augustino de Cruce – who witnessed a grant by Strongbow of land in Dublin sometime before 1176 – may have been the earliest recorded member of this family in Ireland (although Sir Maurice Cruys who died in 1216 was regarded as the forebear of this family). 

These Cruys had established themselves at Naul near Dublin in the early 13th century and may also have taken up residence at Cruicetown in county Meath by that time.

Meath became increasingly lawless during the 14th and 15th centuries and one family head, Sir Christopher Cruys (as recounted in The Song of Mary Anne Cruys), paid with his life. The Cruys spelling gave way to Cruise in the 17th century.  But both the Meath and Dublin branches remained staunch adherents of the Catholic faith.  After taking part in the 1641 rebellion, their lands were subsequently forfeited.

The main Cruise presence in Ireland by the 19th century was in and around Dublin.  There was also Cruises in Roscommon and  Offaly.

EnglandDNA evidence suggests that the Cruwyses of Devon and the Cruises of Ireland were related, both originating probably from one Anglo-Norman family. 

This family gave its name to the parish of Cruwys Morchard near Tiverton in north Devon, where they have been lords of the manor for almost nine hundred years – from the 12th century until the present day.

In early records the name was usually spelt Cruwes, Cruys, or Crues.  The present spelling of Cruwys was a curious hybrid of these early spellings, first appearing in the Cruwys Morchard parish registers in the 1680’s (Margaret Cruwys chronicled the village history in her 1939 book A Cruwys Morchard Notebook). The Cruse spelling, however, cropped up in Somerset.

America.  Ireland provided most of the Cruises in America.  But if the spelling were Cruse or Crews, England was the more likely origin.  A few Cruise arrivals may have originally been Kruse from Germany or Denmark.

One Cruise/Crews line dates back to Halifax county, Virginia in the 1790’s. Another line, traced in Billy Buckel’s 1993 book Buckels-Cruise Family History, followed Micajah Cruise from colonial North and South Carolina into Mississippi territory in 1810.  Many of his descendants still live in Mississippi, as well as elsewhere in the South.

Irish immigrants were more numerous in the 19th century.  They included Patrick Russell Cruise from Dublin who, newly married, arrived around 1830.  His daughter Mary Cruise who moved to Kentucky before the Civil War is the great great grandmother of the actor Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise’s Family Ancestry

The actor Tom Cruise, born Thomas Cruise Mapother, has ancestry firstly in Ireland and then in Louisville, Kentucky.

Just click below if you want to read more about this history:

Cruise Surname Miscellany

Cruise and Variants Today

Numbers (000’s) Cruise Cruse Cruwys
Ireland    0.5
England    0.9    0.2    0.2
America    0.9    0.2    0.1
Elsewhere    1.1    0.1    0.1
Total    3.4    0.5    0.4

The Song of Mary Anne Cruys.  The Cruys had been in county Meath probably since the time of Strongbow.  In the 15th century the head of the family was Sir Christopher Cruys who owned the estates of Rathmore, Moydorragh and Cruicetown. He had married late in life and was expecting an heir.  But his nephews were angry as they had anticipated to inherit all his property.

So they planned to murder them one evening as husband and wife were walking up the avenue by Cruicetown lake to the castle on their return from Moydorragh.  When attacked, Sir Christopher ordered his young wife to run to the castle for help.  He stood with his back to a tree and fought off the ruffians with a sword until he fell riddled with wounds.

The assassins then chased Lady Cruys and she only gained sanctuary in the castle by a second.  As the great oak door slammed shut it caught and tore her mantle streaming out behind her as she ran. She immediately summoned her servants and sent them out to help their master.  He was beyond their aid and so they bore his body back to the castle.

That night Lady Cruys had her husband buried by torchlight in the Cruicetown graveyard.  At the time of the funeral she collected all the Cruicetown plate and jewels and had them sunk in strong chests in the lake.  Then, fearing for her life, she and an old nurse set off secretly for Dublin on horseback and later set sail for London.

Soon after arriving in London, Lady Cruys gave birth to a daughter Mary Anne.  For several years they lived on the proceeds of the jewels brought from Ireland.  But when all was sold they became very poor and had to subsist by washing clothes in the Thames.

However, the story did have a happy ending.  Daughter Mary Anne later married Sir Thomas Plunkett who returned to Ireland with her and retrieved her inheritance.  The couple founded and built a memorial church at Rathmore and both were buried there.  The large effigy of the Norman knight and his lady, put there in the sacristy recently when the ruined church was restored, are most likely theirs.  And Mary Anne is remembered in song in the old Irish ballad The Song of Mary Anne Cruys. 

The Cruwys Family of Cruwys Morchard.  One of the oldest families in Devon, the Cruwys Family of Cruwys Morchard near Tiverton, was the subject of a radio talk in 1944 by Dr. W. G. Hoskins, Lecturer in Economics at University College, Leicester.

Dr. Hoskins entitled his talk “Seven Hundred Years in One House.”  He stated that the Cruwys family appeared in records as early as 1175, close to Cruwys Morchard, and they came to Cruwys Morchard House soon after 1200. Family papers date back to the time of Richard I.

The present house dates from 1594 when the original structure was rebuilt.  The foundations of the old house showed walls nearly ten feet thick.  A stream ran across the cellar floor – in under one wall and out under another – to furnish the water supply in case of siege.  Manor court rolls date back to 1509.

One early member of the family, Sir Robert Cruwys, fought at Crecy and at the siege of Calais and was knighted in France for his services.  He returned home to Cruwys Morchard and paid off all his debts in the church porch with the spoils of war. 

Cruise and Other Arrivals in America

Numbers Cruise Cruse Crews
Ireland    72    21     7
England    46    37    37
Scandinavia    12     3
Germany     3     3     7
Total   133    64    51

Crews was probably the American version of Cruwys.  Some Cruise arrivals may have been Kruse, from the German and Danish nickname for someone with curly hair.

Cruise Names

  • Sir Francis Cruise was a noted Irish physician and writer of the 19th century.  He was the inventor of the endoscope in 1865. 
  • Tom Cruise is the well-known and popular American actor.

Cruise Numbers Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

Cruise and Like Surnames

These are surnames which have a small number of people bearing that name but are included here – for the curiosity of the name, its history, or because of some famous person who bears that name.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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