What is the origin of the last name Cartwright?

The last name Cartwright, derived from the Old English word "cart(w)riht," has an ancestral origin rooted in occupational nomenclature. This surname alludes to a person who specialized in the construction and maintenance of carts, an essential skill during medieval times. The term "cart" refers to a heavy four-wheeled vehicle used for transportation and agriculture, while "wright" signifies a skilled craftsman or builder. Thus, individuals bestowed with the surname Cartwright can trace their heritage to an ancestry involved in the cart-making trade.

Countries of origin for the last name Cartwright

CARTWRIGHT is a surname that originates from England. It is primarily found in the United Kingdom, with a significant presence in the United States as well. The name CARTWRIGHT is an occupational surname, derived from the Middle English word “cart” meaning a cart or wagon, and “wright” which refers to someone who builds or repairs something. Therefore, the name CARTWRIGHT indicates someone who was involved in the trade of making or repairing carts.

The earliest recorded instance of the surname CARTWRIGHT can be traced back to the 13th century in Oxfordshire, England. Over time, the name spread across different regions of the country, with notable concentrations in areas such as Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Leicestershire. The significance of the cartwright profession during medieval times contributed to the prevalence of this surname.

Migration and colonization played a role in bringing the name CARTWRIGHT to the United States. Many individuals bearing this surname were among the early European settlers who arrived in North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. They carried their name and occupational traditions with them, settling in various parts of the country, including New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Southern states.

Like many other surnames, variations of CARTWRIGHT developed over time. These variations could arise due to regional accents, spelling variations, or individual preferences. Some common variations of CARTWRIGHT include CARTRIGHT, CARTWRIGHTSON, and CARTYWRIGHT. These variations, although distinct in spelling, still retain the core meaning and lineage of the original surname.

Understanding the etymology of the surname CARTWRIGHT can provide insights into the historical significance of individuals bearing this name. It sheds light on the trade and craftsmanship of cart-making in medieval England and the subsequent diaspora of cartwrights to various parts of the world. Despite its occupational origins, the surname CARTWRIGHT continues to serve as a lasting testament to the heritage and ancestry of those who bear this name today.

Interesting facts about the last name Cartwright

  • The surname Cartwright is an occupational name derived from the Middle English word “cart,” meaning a wagon or cart, and “wright,” meaning a skilled craftsman or builder. Therefore, the name originally referred to someone who made or repaired carts.
  • The origin of the surname Cartwright can be traced back to England, where it was most commonly found in the northern counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
  • The Cartwright surname gained prominence during the medieval period, as the demand for carts and wagons increased due to the expansion of trade and agriculture.
  • In some cases, the surname Cartwright was also used as a nickname or a descriptive name for someone who had a close association with carts or wagons.
  • Over time, some individuals with the surname Cartwright may have branched out into other professions or trades, while still retaining the name as their inherited family surname.
  • The Cartwright family name has spread beyond England and can be found in various English-speaking countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • The surname Cartwright has also been used in popular culture, notably in the American television show “Bonanza,” where the central family’s last name is Cartwright and they are depicted as ranchers in Nevada during the 1800s.
  • Notable individuals with the surname Cartwright include Peter Cartwright, a prominent American Methodist revivalist and politician, and Angela Cartwright, a British-born American actress known for her roles in “The Sound of Music” and “Lost in Space.”
  • In heraldry, the Cartwright coat of arms typically features symbols associated with cart-making, such as wagon wheels or carts, highlighting the occupational roots of the surname.
  • Due to variations in spelling and pronunciation over time, alternative forms of the surname Cartwright can be found, including Cartwight, Cartwrighte, and Cartwryte.

Name Rank


There are around 22156 people with the last name Cartwright in the US

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