The Carr family, members of which can boast that one of them came over in the Mayflower, and that five other members had settled here before 1650, is, as it should be, of very ancient origin. As is so often the case, there are two theories to choose from concerning the family’s origin — one that it originated in France and was introduced into England by William the Conquerer, from Normandy, and the other that it originated in England.
There is no doubt that some of the Carrs in England took their name from the local dialects in which the word “car” was frequent and of various meanings. In many places in England, a car was a wood or grove of alder trees growing in a hollow; in Anglo-Saxon, a car was a lock. In Lincolnshire dialect, it signifies merely a gutter, and in Celtic it meant any sort of fortification. From any, or several, of these cars, the name may have been taken.
Those who believe in the Norman origin look to the French Baron Ker as their ancestor, whose descendants in England, it is said, were for some reason called Carr. The greatest evidence in favor of this derivation is the fact that the armorial bearings of the Kerrs on the continent are identical with those used by many of the Carrs in England. It may be, however, that the English Carrs adopted the arms of the Kers because of the similarity of the names.
Anyway the name arose somehow and so long ago that nobody is quite sure how. And the family was an old and respected one in England in the latter part of the 16th century, when the annals of the American Carrs assume importance.
In New England, many of the name trace descent to four brothers, William, Benjamin, George and James Carr, all of whom came to this country in earliest Colonial days. George came on the historic Mayflower as ship carpenter.