This distinguished surname, borne by the Earls of Southesk, the Earls of Northesk, and having no less than twelve Coats of Arms, is of Scottish territorial origin from the old barony of the same name in the parish of Carmyllie, Angus (now part of the Tayside region). The place was so called from the Old Gaelic "cathair an eige", fort of the gap or nick, and the principal family of the name, formerly known as "de Balinhard", acquired the lands of Carnegie circa 1340, and assumed their surname from those lands. John Carnegy, noted in the Episcopal Register of Brechin (Angus), witnessed a transumpt or transcript in 1450, and Sir Robert Carnegie, styled Lord Kinnaird, was envoy to England in 1548, and to France (1551). Other notable bearers of the name include: Sir David Carnegie (1575 - 1658), created Baron Carnegie (1616), and Earl of Southesk (1633), and William Carnegie, seventh Earl of Northesk and rear-admiral of the navy, who fought at Trafalgar in 1805, and was elevated to the rank of admiral the following year. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name (and that held by the Earls of Southesk) is a gold shield, with an azure eagle displayed, beaked and membered red, and charged on the breast with a covered cup of the field, the Crest being a thunder-bolt proper, and the Motto: "Dread God". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Duthac de Carnegy, witness to a deed of sale, which was dated 1383, in the "Episcopal Register of Aberdeen", Aberdeenshire, Scotland, during the reign of King Robert 11 of Scotland, 1371 - 1390. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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