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The surname is probably derived from the Norman word cruz meaning “cross.”  Alternatively it could have derived from a similar-spelt place name, either in Flanders or Normandy.  The name appeared in Devon as Cruwes and Cruwys; and in Ireland, after the Anglo-Norman invasion, as Cruys and later as Cruise.  Other spellings have been Cruse and Crews.  The pronunciation has always tended to be “cruise.” 

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IrelandThe Anglo-Norman name de Cruys began to appear in Irish administrative records around the year 1200, although Augustino de Cruce - who witnessed a grant by Strongbow of land in Dublin sometime before 1176 - may have been the earliest recorded member of this family in Ireland (although Sir Maurice Cruys who died in 1216 was regarded as the forebear of this family).  These Cruys had established themselves at Naul near Dublin in the early 13th century and may also have taken up residence at Cruicetown in county Meath by that time. 

Meath became increasingly lawless during the 14th and 15th centuries and one family head, Sir Christopher Cruys (as recounted in The Song of Mary Anne Cruys), paid with his life.  The Cruys spelling gave way to Cruise in the 17th century.  But both the Meath and Dublin branches remained staunch adherents of the Catholic faith.  After taking part in the 1641 rebellion, their lands were subsequently forfeited. 

The main Cruise presence in Ireland by the 19th century was in and around Dublin.  There was also Cruises in Roscommon and  Offaly.

DNA evidence suggests that the Cruwyses of Devon and the Cruises of Ireland were related, both originating probably from one Anglo-Norman family.  This family gave its name to the parish of Cruwys Morchard near Tiverton in north Devon, where they have been lords of the manor for almost nine hundred years - from the 12th century until the present day. 

In early records the name was usually spelt Cruwes, Cruys, or Crues. The present spelling of Cruwys was a curious hybrid of these early spellings, first appearing in the Cruwys Morchard parish registers in the 1680’s (Margaret Cruwys chronicled the village history in her 1939 book A Cruwys Morchard Notebook).  The Cruse spelling, however, cropped up in Somerset.

America.  Ireland provided most of the Cruises in America.  But if the spelling were Cruse or Crews, England was the more likely origin.  A few Cruise arrivals may have originally been Kruse from Germany or Denmark.

One Cruise/Crews line dates back to Halifax county, Virginia in the 1790’s.  Another line, traced in Billy Buckel's 1993 book Buckels-Cruise Family History, followed Micajah Cruise from colonial North and South Carolina into Mississippi territory in 1810.  Many of his descendants still live in Mississippi, as well as elsewhere in the South.

Irish immigrants were more numerous in the 19th century.  They included the forebears of Tom Cruise the actor who, it is thought, came to Newark, New Jersey in the early part of the century.

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

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Sir Francis Cruise was a noted Irish physician and writer of the 19th century.  He was the inventor of the endoscope in 1865.
Tom Cruise is the well-known American actor.

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  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

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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