The surname of CRABTREE was of two-fold origin. It was a locational name 'the dweller beside the crab-trees' from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. It may also have been a nickname for a cantankerous person, a sense which developed primarily from this word, with reference to the sourness of the fruit. The name was derived from the Old English word CRABBE. Early records of the name mention Henry Crabbe who was documented in the year 1273 in County Cumberland. Matilda Crabbe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Other records of the name mention John Crabtree, of Yorkshire, 1273. Baptised. Agnes Crabtree, at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1563. Sarah Crabtree was baptised at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1661. As a Scots surname Crabb is probably of Flemish origin. Edward II of England complained to the Count of Flanders about the activities of the engineer John Crabb in designing engines for the Scots at the seige of Berwick in 1319, and received the reply that he had already been banished for murder. Robert 1. of Scotland made him large grants of land, and his family were prominent in the affairs of Aberdeen during the succeeding centuries. Roger Crab (1621-1680) was an English hermit. He served in the parliamentry army and then set up business as a 'haberdasher of hats' at Chesham in Buckinghamshire, but in 1651, sold of his stock, distributing the proceeds to the poor, and took up residence in a hut, his sole drink was water, and his food consisted of bran, dock leaves and grass. He published 'The English Hermite' and 'Dagon's Downfall'. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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