Welcome to the “Curness Family Tree” web site. My name is Tony Curness and I have been compiling the Complete Curness Family Tree in various forms since 1994. I started this web site at the end of the nineteen hundreds, so I could share my own research plus research and information supplied to me from many sources, with as many people as possible. It is called the Complete Curness Family Tree because, hopefully, it contains every person with the Curness surname ever born anywhere in the world, from the the late seventeen hundreds up until the present day. I would like to acknowledge the help of my youngest daughter Amanda who was of great help in setting up this web site.

Before I go any further, I would like to dedicate this project to the memory of two ladies who married into the Curness Clan. Firstly to my beloved wife Sandra Curness (nee Roberts), who although initially, was not interested in the tree, but who in the later years became my inspiration. Without her love and support, I would never have got as far as I have. Secondly, to Ceridwen Robyn (Kerry) Curness (nee Roberts), who wrote to me in 1982, telling me of her husband Stanley Curness and his family that came from Scotland, and of her and Stanley’s family that lived in Sarina, Queensland, Australia. Although it took me twelve years to react to Kerry’s letter, it was that single spark that started me off. Sadly for her family and me, Kerry was killed in a car crash in 1991 and so she never knew what her letter had started. So for Sandra, Kerry and all the other people that have helped me over the years and who have passed on, I hope that this project keeps the memory of them alive for many generations to come.

I would also like to dedicate this document to the memory of three young men who gave their lives for us during the two world wars. Their names are William Henry Curness and Frederick George Curness who died in the 1914 – 1918 war and Arthur William Curness who died in the 1939 – 1945 war. They all died in their early twenties, which is a sad waste of life. I am sure that there were others who had their lives prematurely shortened by these and other wars and would welcome any information about them that I might add to their page of the tree.

“Lest We Forget”.

I must add that if any of the material on this site offends anyone in any way then please do not hesitate to let me know and I will remove it. I have always thought that most people are happy with the tree and so have added most of the things I have been told, to the site to make it as informative, interesting and historically accurate as I can. It may be, that I have overstepped the mark in some cases and for that I am truly sorry and will rectify the specific item if asked to do so, if it does not alter the facts.

Where it all started…

It has been indicated that the name Curness comes from Scotland. This I believe is because we are grouped with the Cairns group of families, including Cairns, Cairne, Carney. Kern, Kerns, Kearns etc but I have no documented proof of this and the only Curness families I have found in Scotland are the modern day ones. It has also been thought that the name was German but I think that this is because William Isaac (Robert) Curness one of the brothers that form the tree as it is today, married an Ellen Louisa Crummenauer, who was of German descent. Also one of William and Ellen’s daughters, Alice, married a Henry Bigel who was also of German descent and so I believe, a myth began.

I did think at one time that the name might be a derivation of the name Cairness, of which I found a number of entries in the seventeen hundreds. There is a place in Scotland called Cairness, near the village of Lonmay, near Fraserburgh north of Aberdeen. I visited the place in 1996 and found it to be be a large manor house set on an estate. The locals pronounce Cairness, Curness. The house itself was built in 1788 by the architect Thomas Playfair, for the Gordon family. The name is not considered to be a local name although it was there from around 1642, long before the house was built. I wrote to the local vicar who informed me that he believed Cairness to be a place name and the University of Aberdeen who were doing some restoration work on the original drawings of the house confirmed this. I do not know how it got it’s name, so at this stage it still might be just a red herring. Since I have started tracing the Curness name via the Internet, I have found a number of people in America that have Curness as a Christian name. One of these is an African/American named Curness Mann, who’s father also had Curness as a Christian name (I do not know anything about the others). His family do not know where the name comes from, but another of my daughters, Tracy, suggests that it might go back as far as the slavery period in the 1700s as the Gordon family had plantations in Jamaica and Georgia and it could be possible that one of the plantations was named Cairness / Curness and the name was adopted by some of the people that worked on them and the name was carried on through various generations of families in America. This also might be a red herring but I do believe that the name was pronounced differently in the early days as my great-grandfather and his family including my own grandfather were registered as Cairness in the 1881 census, I also found one couple registered as Cairness in the 1901 census that I believe belong to the tree.

When I first started, I only intended to research just my own family, for apart from the family in Queensland and another two in South Australia and New Zealand, I only knew of my immediate family, (uncles, aunts and cousins) and that my grandfather’s name was John. But then when I started going through the St Catherine’s House Records (central records of birth. death and marriages for England and Wales) here in Australia. I found that there were only eighty seven people born with the Curness name between 1837 and 1906 (the limit of information here in Australia at that time), thirty three of whom died before they were ten. I then realised that the name had to be rare and maybe had a common source. Of the twenty seven surviving males, two (as stated above) were lost in or as a result of World War One. This left twenty five to carry on the family name.

After all my investigations to date, I am convinced that we are all descendants of William Curniss / Curness and Charlotte Torr who were married in 1825. They had nine children that I know of. Four of the boys survived and went on to have families of their own. These form the four main branches of the tree that exist today. These four boys in order of age were, Frederick John born 1834, John Benjamin born 1838, William Isaac (Robert) born 1841 and Henry (James) born 1845. I believe the tree and all its branches I have built over the past years is as accurate and comprehensive as I can make it. I have over the years, purchased a number of birth, death and marriage certificates to authenticate the information contained in the tree, these have been augmented by copies of certificates sent or given to me by some of my many correspondents. These people have given me, a complete stranger to most of them, a lot of personal details, some of which I have used and some of which I think at this stage should remain undisclosed. To them, I say thank you and I hope that I have used your information in the correct way and that you are happy with the final product.

Where we are at…

At this present time I estimate that there are one hundred and forty nine Curnesses in the world today. Forty three of those are ladies such as my late wife Sandra who have married into the family. Having said that we all come from the one couple, my latest research has uncovered a number of people in the U. S. A, now and it the past with the surname Curness, which at this point in time I cannot link to the tree, plus Curness is used as an a adjective and a noun and various other things.

In the early days most of the Curness families were tradespeople. Of course this has changed as people became better educated and many have gone on to higher things. In the early years it was mainly in the ship building field that they were employed as boiler makers, riveters etc.and they moved around following where the work was. I believe that it was for this reason they moved south across the river from the Holborn / Shoreditch area to to the Lambeth / Southwark area. Then later on some went up to Greenwich and later still, a few families moved down to Southampton.There were also a cutler, brass moulders, a cork cutter, tie makers and in the printing field, a machine minder and book folders.

The following pages contain the main tree in family group form and all known details of births, deaths and marriages. Also on the page for the female indiviuals who have married out of the family, are the details of any known children of their unions. In the tree I have used information from St Catherine’s House, Parish and Census records plus the certificates I have mentioned, together with a lot of details via word of mouth. Coupled with this I have used deduction, logic and failing that good old gut feelings. The early years is where I made most of my mistakes for the mother’s maiden name was not added to the birth lists until 1912 as was the spouse’s surname added to the marriage lists. So the tree has altered somewhat from when I first started it, for every batch of certificates I purchase brings other surprises. The page of each individual can contain the photograph of themselves and their spouse, their certificates if before 1910 (later if allowed), various census records, plus footnotes. Late in 2002 I purchased some photo copies of the actual parish records for London prior to 1837 when central records started. This has given me added information about certain members of the tree, for as well as the christening and marriage details there are some details about their birth dates, trades of the fathers, where they lived and people who were witnesses at the marriages. In July of 2003 I received a number of photo copies of the actual parish records of pertaining to christenings the Greenwich area, which also included extra details. All of which helps to tie different individuals together. There are still some individuals who I have still to fit into the whole tree. In 2011, thanks to my son Mark, I gain access to Ancestry.co.uk, a site which contains, not only a lot of the details I had already had, but more. The site contains more Baptism records some of which have the birth date. It also has a number Marriage certificates and some Burial details. Although the copies of the certificates I have perchased are certified, they are not always taken from the original as the quality in some cases is not good enough to print and so is writen by the issuing officer. However thanks to Mark, I now have some copies of the oringal marriage certificates and I have added them all to the web site, even though I have already added the certified copy, and you, if you wish, can compare the two. All this new information has helped to tie up some of the loose ends but has also thown up some new members of the Curness Clan, some of which, will need some investigation done before they are added to the web site.

In 2009, I visited the UK and was lucky enough to meet up with sixty nine members of the tree, forty one of whom have Curness as their surname. This time I took photographs, most of which appear on the tree. If you would like a photograph of yourself, your spouse, or if you are a child of a lady who was born a Curness, a picture of your parents added to your mother’s page, or would prefer another one to the one that is there, then please send it to me and I will add them.

Its your family tree…

If I have made any mistakes pertaining to you or your part of the tree and you would like it corrected then please let me know by contacting me at tony@curness.com If you would like or have any information about any aspect of the Curness name please let me know for I am only too willing to share any of my knowledge, limited though it may be and would be delighted to receive input from any source. I am now able to compile this tree on to a CD ROM disc. If any of you would like a copy for yourself or to pass on to your children, then again please not hesitate to let me know. There is no cost, for it is my intention to share the information I have acquired, with as many people who are interested in the tree as possible. For it has been compiled with help from many sources and this is my way of giving something back.

The tree contains a lot of personal details and there are some people who are worried about indentity theft, I can only say that most of the people that visit the site do so because they have learnt about it by word of mouth or because they have come across it whilst doing research into their own family tree which overlaps into ours. As far as identity theft, I know of only one case of someone using the Curness name for criminal intent and that was here in Australia. The police came to my home and I was able to inform them that there was not now or ever a Raymond Curness, the name the person they were after had used.

As I have said it was in the early years are where I have used the most guesswork. The information at the Public Records Office is limited. The birth, death and marriage registers contain just the name of the person, the year, the quarter of the year (i.e. March, June, September and December), the district plus the volume and page numbers, all of which are needed for the purchasing of certified certificates. The certificates themselves of course contain more information but can work out expensive if, as in my case you wish to wish to buy a lot. At this present time they are nine pounds fifty pence each or about twenty Australian dollars.

It has become a little easier as the years have gone by. Firstly in 1866 the age of the person who had died was added to the register. Then, as I have said in 1912 the mother’s maiden name was added to the birth register and the spouse’s surname was added to the marriage register. Then in 1969 the age of person who had died was removed and replaced with their date of birth.

With these details, I was able to build up little individual trees, e.g. my father James Alfred Curness married Violet Grace Evans in the September quarter 1938, in Southwark. Then in the September quarter 1939, Anthony James Curness was born to Violet Grace Evans, in Watford and in the March quarter 1945, Christopher John Curness was born to Violet Grace Evans in Amersham. Thus the extent of our family. Later in June quarter 1964, in Lewisham, Anthony James Curness married Sandra Roberts and in the June quarter 1968, in Greenwich, Christopher John Curness married Glenys Florence Copeland. So with this knowledge and all the other information gathered over the years, I was able to joined all the little trees together, some times with difficulty, to make the total tree as it is today.

To view please click on the list of contents and I hope you enjoy the trip back into our history.

Tony Curness,
Curness Family Tree founder.