This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 13rd September 1999, reproduced by kind permission of the author, the late Desmond Holden.

The “What's in a Name” series was a regular feature in the Advertiser over the period 1993‑2004, taking a refreshing look at the derivation of some typically Derbyshire surnames.

Articles are confined to the origins and meanings of surnames, and do not indicate any particular interest on Desmond's part in the genealogy, descent, or family history of individuals bearing the surnames featured.

Editor's Note: Articles are provided for general interest and background only. They are not intended to provide an exhaustive treatise for any individual family history - investigations of which may yield quite different results. Or, in Desmond's own words:

“In the end it must remain with individual bearers of the names to draw upon family traditions and to seek out such documentary evidence as is available to decide the matter for themselves.”


At first "Garrington" might be taken simply to be a mis-rendering of the better known surname "Carrington". Very probably, but as it happens there is actually a place of that name in Kent. (Just south of Littlebourne by the A257, 4 miles east of Canterbury). The map indicates that it comprises little more than two farms: Upper and Lower Garrington - in fact the directory describes "Upper" as a water-cress farm.

Otherwise no place called "Garrington" is listed in any gazetteer. Nor does it ever seem to have been a distinctive settlement. Whereas "Littlebourne" is mentioned as early as 696 A.D, "Garrington" is not even included in Domesday (1086). It appears only in a list of church property (1194) under the name of "Garwynnetun". This can be interpreted as "The homestead of the woman called Garwynn". No further information is to hand. It certainly doesn't seem to have generated any corresponding surname. Not a single entry under "Garrington" appears in any of the current directories covering the south-east or the London area.

The heaviest concentration of the name "Carrington" occurs more or less in the north west and in Scotland, and "Garrington" - although not prolific - follows much the same pattern. The suggestion that "Garrington" is merely a permutation upon "Carrington" is given substantial backing in that interchanges between an initial "C-" and "G-" are frequently encountered in language development. For example, "Catcliffe" (near Sheffield) was re- written "Gatcliff' in the tax returns for 1379; "Clitheroe" (Lancashire) is changed to "Glitherow" and "Gammage" (a Norman French name) becomes "Cammidge".

There are four places called "Carrington" of which only the two in Cheshire and Scotland have furnished surnames. The others in Lincolnshire and Nottingham need only passing mention. "Carrington" (Lincs.) lies about 8 miles north of Boston (B1183). A great drainage scheme was undertaken in the region (1812) and several "new towns" were created, including "Carrington".

The leading personality in the district was the celebrated banker, Robert Smith (1752-1832). Having been raised to the peerage in 1796, he selected the title "Baron Carrington". This had been a neighbourhood name and his choice was probably influenced by the fact that out of the half-dozen or so revised place-names, this one did at least get a mention in the old records at the time of the Conquest.

It was described as "Carington" and the Baron might have hoped that perhaps the name had some connection with the Ancient British people whom the old Greek chronicler, Ptolomy (c.200 A.D) called the "Coritani" and who were thought to have had a centre at Lincoln. After he died in 1838 it seems his son replaced the family name of "Smith" with "Carrington" under royal licence. This changed yet again in 1868 to "Carington" no doubt to bring it into line with the old spelling "Coringatun".

The name is repeated as a district name in Nottingham. It arises simply because Robert Smith's family owned considerable acreage in the area more or less centring at the point where the Mansfield Road (A60) and the Hucknall Road (A611) converge. It is extremely unlikely that either place generated the surname "Carrington" for anybody. It might conceivably have been consciously adopted by a few servants or family retainers (this is the source of many "aristocratic" surnames among the proletariat!) but it is doubtful. Expressed shortly: here the name appeared on the scene long after surnames had evolved.

With regard to the other two sources, people with Scottish connections might wish to investigate whether they originated from a place in Midlothian, about 4½ miles south of Dalkeith.

Curiously enough, the spelling involved in this instance is also capricious. The earliest reference available is in connection with a "Wautier (Walter?) de Keringtoun" in 1296. Followed, in 1506 with mention of "William Keringtoun". Then a century later King James I created the title of "Lord Ramsey of Kerington" (1618) but after 20 years it had been transformed into "Caryngtoun". It was still spelled this way as late as 1846 and it is not certain now when it settled finally on "Carrington"

The change from "Ker-" into "Car-" is not significant. The surnames "Carr", "Kerr" and "Ker" are all interchangeable. The place-names "Carrington" might well have been built up on the northern dialect term "ken" which means "brush wood" or "rushes". Supporting evidence for this interpretation lies in that Carrington stands on the river Redside. Of this name, the unit "Red-" could very well signify "reed". Hence "Carrington" in full, might he interpreted as: "The settlement of the people on the marsh-lands".

Nearer home there is finally that site in Cheshire (now Greater Manchester). It is mentioned as "Karinton" (1101), as "Carrintona" (c.1250) and "Carington" (1294). It is located on the south bank of the Mersey, 3 miles west of Sale on the A6144. The area is extremely low-lying and there are extensive marshes, as. for example, the notorious Chat Moss. This would seem to correspond with the meaning of its Scots counterpart. However an alternative explanation is that it is based on the Old English word "caering" which describes the bends in a river. And there can be no doubt that the river Mersey makes an extremely pronounced curve at this point. Hence the name could be taken to signify: "The habitation on the bend of the river".

As a surname it occurs locally as far back as 1219 (Thomas de Karington - Lancashire); 1294 (John de Carington - Cheshire). It seems then to have been carried further afield since we hear of a Richard Carington in Nottingham for 1523 and in 1589 Katherine Karrington appears in London.

The presence of the name here in Derbyshire is not significant. Carrington House in Chinley takes its name from James Carrington of Sheffield (1624); Carrington's Farm in Smalley refers to a William Carrington (1746); and the street of the same name in Derby - between the hospital and the station is not, in the context of this feature, particularly relevant.

In the past, when a man left his native settlement, he was usually identified by his new neighbours as being "from such-and-such a place". This will certainly have been the case where people had come from Carrington - either in Scotland or Cheshire.

It must, of course, be a matter for individuals bearing this name to investigate their origins further.

The surname "Carrington" has certainly been borne by many worthy individuals, but they are not "head-liners". It is well-represented locally. There are over 100 entries listed under "Carrington" in the directories - but only some half-dozen under "Garrington". Another well-known name is Miss Sophie Garrington who was the 1997 Carnival Queen for Bakewell. The "Peak Advertiser" thanks all those readers who have written to us or telephoned the office asking about this feature. Letters from Bradwell, Brassington, Chelmorton, Darley Dale, Macclesfield, Mickleover and Tideswell are hereby acknowledged and our contributor, Desmond Holden, promises to do his best to look into the origins of the names asked about.

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From "The Peak Advertiser", 13rd September 1999.

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