Select Carnegie Surname Genealogy

The surname Carnegie derived from the place-name Carnegie near Carmyllie in Angus.  It probably came from the Gaelic cathair an eige, meaning "fort at the gap."

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Scotland.  Carnegie in Scotland has generally been a name localized in and around Angus in the northeast of Scotland.  The family who assumed this name, however, was originally known under an earlier place name of Balinhard, also in Angus.   John of Balinhard was the first to take the name of Carnegie in 1358.  Early Carnegies, first of this family and then of Kinnaird in Brechin, adopted the title Carnegie of that Ilk.

Two brothers of that name, David and John, made reputations for themselves by supporting the Royalist cause during the Civil War.  They were created the Earls of Southesk and Northesk respectively (the names coming from the Esk river in Angus).  Both earldoms have continued to the present day.  The 5th Earl of Southesk, commemorated in the song The Piper o' Dundee, lost his lands following his support for the Stuarts in the 1715 Uprising, and died in France.  The 12th Earl assumed through his mother the title of Duke of Fife and a connection with the royal family.  The Southesk home has been Kinnaird castle near Brechin since the 15th century.

There were other Carnegies in Angus.   George Carnegie of Balnamoon (from the Northesk side of the family) had fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1746.  After the defeat he fled with his brother James to Sweden where he prospered as a merchant in Gothenburg.  He returned to Scotland as the Laird of Pitarrow a wealthy man.  Another Carnegie line has been traced back to Colin Carnegie who married Isabel Grieg in Brechin in 1772. 

Meanwhile Andrew Carnegie, the son of a handloom weaver in Dunfermline, Fife, left with his parents for America in 1848.  This Andrew Carnegie was to be the most famous bearer of the Carnegie name.     

Sweden.  David Carnegie, the son of George Carnegie of Balnamoon, arrived from Montrose in 1803 and began the trading firm of D. Carnegie & Co. in Gothenburg.  It was his nephew David, coming as a young man in 1830, who acquired a brewery for making porter and established the Carnegie Porter brand.

  Andrew Carnegie had arrived in Pittsburgh at the age of thirteen and immediately started working as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill.  He was to earn most of his fortune in the steel industry.  In the 1870's, he founded the Carnegie Steel Company, a step which cemented his name as one of America's "captains of industry."  By the 1890's the company had become the largest and most profitable industrial enterprise in the world.  He sold it in 1901 to J.P. Morgan.  Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy.  In his The Gospel of Work of 1898 he wrote: "The man who dies rich dies disgraced." 

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, was born Dale Carnagey in 1888, a poor farmerís son in Missouri.

Australia and New Zealand.  Alexander Carnegie left Brechin with his family for New Zealand sometime in the 1860ís.  He died in Waipukarau in 1882.  Some of his descendants are in New Zealand, other relatives are to be found in Australia and Canada.    

David Carnegie, the youngest son of the 9th Earl of Southesk, departed England for Australia in 1892.  At first he got caught up in the Western Australian gold rush.  Finding no gold, he led an expedition from Coolgardie through the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts to Halls Creek and back again.  Moving to Africa, he died in Nigeria at the early age of 29.

Select Carnegie Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Carnegie Names

David Carnegie established the Carnegie Porter brand in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1836. 
Andrew Carnegie, born in Scotland, made his fortune as a steel-maker in America.
Dale Carnegie was the American author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, a massive best-seller when it was published in 1936.

Select Carnegies Today
  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous in Angus)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Florida) 
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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