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(Click on picture to enlarge) The Cruwys coat of arms. Drawing by Joseph M Crews reproduced by kind permission.

One-Name Study


About the Cruwys One-Name Study

I first began to research the Cruwys surname back in 2002. I gradually accumulated a large quantity of information on various Cruwys families and in January 2006 the decision was taken to register the surname with the Guild in order to share my research with other researchers and to learn more about other branches of the family. As the research progressed it was clear that the study would need to be broadened to include other variant spellings. Cruse was added as a registered variant in November 2007, and Cruise was added in September 2011.


Variants include: Creuse, Crewce, Crewes, Crewis, Crewiss, Crews, Crewse, Crewys, Croose, Crowse, Cruce, Crues, Cruese, Cruice, Cruis, Cruize, Crus, Cruse, Cruss, Crusse, Cruwes, Cruys, Cruyse, Cruze, Crwys, Curse, Cuss, De Cruce, De Crues, De Cruese, De Cruis, De Cruice, De Cruise, De Cruize, De Cruse, De Cruze, De Cruys, Screws, Scruse, Scuce, Scuse and Skuse.

A deviant spelling is an unorthodox spelling which can be the result of a clerical error or a mistranscription error and which is not a true surname. A list of all known deviant spellings of the surname Cruwys discovered to date can be found on this page.

A list of all known deviant spellings (transient clerical errors) of the surname discovered to date can be found on this page.

Origin of the surname

There is an old Devon rhyme, quoted by Sir John Prince in his book The Worthies of Devon, first published in 1701, which testifies to the longevity of the Cruwys surname:

'Crocker, Cruwys, and Coplestone, When the Conqueror came, were at home.'

There is however no evidence whatsoever to support the theory of a pre-Conquest pedigree and it seems most likely that the surname arrived in England in the middle of the twelfth century either from Normandy or, more probably, from Flanders. There is a place in Belgium known as Kruis or Cruys and a place by the name of Creus-Anisy in Normandy. Cruis is also the name of a commune in France.

The earliest mention of the name in English records found to date is in about 1160 when Ottuel de Crues of Netherexe attested the Colne charters. The earliest document in the family records is known as the Tracy Deed which is believed to date from the beginning of the 13th century, if not earlier. Two of the witnesses to this deed are Richard de Cruwes and Alexander de Cruwes. The 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 twelfth century to the present day. The family also at one time held the manors of Rackenford and East Anstey in Devon. These parishes were formerly known as Rackenford Cruwys and Anstey Cruwys.

The earliest reference in Irish records dates from 1229 when 'Philippum de Cruce' of Dublin was mentioned in the Patent Rolls. The surname is thought to have arrived in Ireland around the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, and DNA evidence suggests that the Irish Cruises are related to the Cruwyses of Devon. In early Irish records the name is mostly spelt Cruys but in more recent times the spelling changed to Cruise.

The surname is possibly derived from the Norman word cruz meaning 'cross'. The Welsh word for cross is crwys but is a less likely origin as it is pronounced crewiss whereas the Devon surname has always been pronounced cruise. In early records the name was usually spelt Cruwes, Cruys, or Crues. The present-day spelling Cruwys is a curious hybrid of these early spellings. The Cruwys spelling was used consistently in the Cruwys Morchard parish registers from the 1680s onwards. Elsewhere in Devon the Cruwys spelling began to be used from the 1790s onwards. By the beginning of civil registration in 1837 the spelling had stabilised and Cruwys was the usual spelling throughout the country. However, the name was often mis-spelt and can be difficult to locate in official records, particularly in census indexes.

Historical occurrences

Frequency of the name

There were 497 people with the surname Cruwys whose births were registered in England and Wales between 1837 and 2004. In the same period there were 384 marriages and 434 deaths. The name is often spelt incorrectly in the GRO indexes. I have records of an additional 28 births, 24 marriages and 25 deaths with variant spellings such as Crewys, Creuwys, Cruyes, Crunys, Crute, Cruyws, Crvwys, Crys, Crwys, Crwes, Cruyse, Cruys, Cruwyd and Creuse though the extraction of mis-spellings is by no means complete. Cruys is possibly a surname in its own right but the remaining variants are virtually all mistranscriptions. There was just one Cruwys marriage in Scotland.

At the time of the 2002 UK electoral register there were 126 people with the surname Cruwys living in the British Isles in the following counties and countries: Avon and Bristol, Devon, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Middlesex, Norfolk, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The second largest concentration of the surname is in Australia, where the name is mostly to be found in New South Wales. There were 54 Cruwys marriages in New South Wales between 1788 and 1955, 26 births between 1788 and 1905 and 63 deaths between 1788 and 1975. There are 36 people with the surname Cruwys listed in the current Australian telephone directory. The surname is also found in America, Canada and Ireland with a few occurrences in France and Belgium.

The censuses are not a reliable indicator of the frequency of the surname as the name is commonly mis-transcribed and is therefore under-represented. For instance, there are a number of Crumps who are Cruwyses in disguise and the transcribers have invented a variety of weird and wonderful surnames such as Brewys, Cenings, Coneys, Cravys, Creewys, Cremeys, Crenny, Crinorp, Crmoys, Crowys, Crucoys, Cruings, Cruloys, Crumys, Crungs, Crusoys, Cruroys, Crurvys, Crwoys, Cumys, Gruwys and Ommps. An initial attempt at analysing the distribution of the surname in the 1881 census can be found on this page.

Distribution of the name

The surname Cruwys (and variants) was firmly planted in North Devon in the twelfth century. It seems likely that everyone with the surname shares a common ancestry. A branch of the family appears to have settled in Ireland, probably at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. Sir Hugh de Cruys was knighted on 6th February 1279 for his good service in the Irish wars and given certain demesnes in Ireland. Robert de Cruys of Nalle, County Meath, who died in 1292, held tenements at Nalle, Ardmays, Cruys, and Moderath. The arms of the Irish Cruys family share many features in common with those of the Devon family. Another branch had settled in Fotheringay, Northamptonshire, by the sixteenth century. From Devon the surname spread mainly into Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, London and Wales. The largest migration from Devon occurred from the 1840s onwards with families settling principally in Bristol, London and Wales. William George Cruwys (1821-1873) from Burrington in Devon emigrated to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and married Sarah Burrows in 1848. Some of their descendants settled in Massachusetts, USA. Virtually everyone in America and Canada with the surname Cruwys is descended from this one couple. The surname also spread to Australia in the nineteenth century. Nearly all the Cruwyses in Australia are descended from John Cruwys and Elizabeth Prichard who married in 1817 at Westminster, London. Oddly in Australia some of the descendants of this couple pronounce the surname crewiss whereas others use the more usual Devon pronunciation cruise. There are three Cruwyses listed in the current New Zealand White Pages telephone directory. Cruys is possibly a distinct surname in the Netherlands where it appears from the sixteenth century onwards. For further information on the name in Holland see the posting on the surname Cruys in the Netherlands.

Crewes is a common variant of the surname found in Cornwall from the sixteenth century onwards and especially in Liskeard, Gerrans and Probus. The Cornish Crewes are virtually all descended from Anthony Cruwys, the son of John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard by his second wife Mary Fraunceys. Anthony married Joanna Bealbury, the daughter of John Bealbury, a wealthy merchant. Anthony died in about 1540 in Liskeard, Cornwall. The Cornish family are already covered in considerable detail by Tom Johns in his booklet Crewes of South Cornwall and their ancestors in Liskeard, Cornwall and Cruwys Morchard, Devon and are beyond the scope of the present study, though descendants from this line are encouraged to participate in the DNA project (see below). The Gerrans OPC (online parish clerk) has a comprehensive website with transcriptions from the parish registers and some interesting historical material.

The surname Crews appears in the American states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia from the seventeenth century onwards. Although Crews is not one of my registered variants I have amassed a growing collection of records on the American lines and am working with researchers in America to construct the pedigrees of these lines with the aid of results from the DNA project (see below). Paulette Smith provides an excellent account of the genealogy of one of the Crews lines in Viriginia on her website. Jason Crews in Texas has published some of his Crews research on his Genealogy Sphere blog.


All enquiries are welcome and any information, however trivial, is always gratefully received and acknowledged. The following are some of the resources which are available:

In addition to the material I have acquired for my Cruwys one-name study I also have a substantial amount of data on some of the other family names which I am researching. These names include: Bodger (Bourn, Cambridgeshire); Boundy (Ashreigney, Devon), Couch (St Giles in the Wood, Devon), Ford (Ashreigney, Devon, and Prince Edward Island, Canada); Dillon (Burrington and Ashreigney, Devon); Faithfull/Faithful (Berkshire, Hampshire, Australia and New Zealand); Kennett (Sussex and Dorset); Tidbury (Berkshire and Hampshire); Trask (Merriott, Somerset, and London); Underwood (Boxworth, Cambridgeshire); Westcott (North Molton, Devon); Wiggins (Clapham, Lewisham and Sydenham); Woolfenden/Wolfenden (Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire).

DNA project

The DNA project was set up on 26th September 2007 and is providing new insights into the origins, evolution and distribution of the surname. We have already had some exciting matches linking together trees from different continents. The project currently has over 100 participants from nine different countries (England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Thailand and America). The DNA project has a wider scope than the one-name study. Participation is invited from any male bearers of the surnames Crew, Crewe, Crewes, Crews, Cruce, Cruise, Cruse, Cruze, Cruwys, Cruys, Cruze, Cuss, Krause, Kruse, Screws, Scruse, etc. For further details about the DNA project visit the official project website. You can read about some of our success stories here. For a brief introduction to DNA testing you can read my introductory article 'Is the answer in your genes?' which was published in the Berkshire Family Historian.


Cruwys news

There are genealogy groups on Facebook for the surnames Cruwys, Cruse, Crews and Cruise.

There are genealogy groups on GenealogyWise for the surnames Cruwys, Cruse, Crews, Crewes and Cruise.

The Cruse Rootsweb mailing list

The Crews Rootsweb mailing list

Cruwys Family Genealogy Forum

The Cruse message board

Cruwys one-name study presentation on Slideshare

Pictures of Cruwys Morchard from Geograph

A growing collection of wills, newspaper articles and other items has been transcribed and published online, mostly on the pages of Genuki Devon. The largest collection can be found on the Cruwys Morchard page.

Other published items (listed in chronological order) include:

Contact details

For further information, contact:

Mrs Debbie Kennett

This page last updated 2 September 2013.

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Profiles of other one-name studies registered with the Guild may be found here.

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