The surname of CRAB 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. 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 from France for murder. Robert I. of Scotland made him large grants of land, and his family were prominent in the affairs of Aberdeen during the succeeding centuries. In 1384 John Crab was the Burgess of Aberdeen, and Paul Crab, his son, appears in record in 1398. Roger Crab (1621-1680) was an English hermit. He served in the parliamentary army and then set up business as a 'haberdasher of hats' at Chesham in Buckinghamshire, but in 1651, sold off 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'. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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