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Origins of the name Creer

Creer is a family name that originates from the Isle of Man (a small island located in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland). The nature of the community life on the IOM was such that a number of family names evolved over the centuries that were clearly unique to the island. Thus tracing the movements of Manx migrants is assisted by the uniqueness of these names. Creer is one of these unique Manx family names.

There had always been a level of trade and travel between the IOM and Northern England and so Manx families were to be found living in and around Liverpool and other parts of NW England from the 18th century. However economic conditions in the IOM during the 19th century encouraged more emigration from the Island and pockets of Manx settlers were ultimately to be found in parts of Australia, Canada and the USA. Thus Creer families can be found today still in all of these places (and more).

There are a number of researchers who have examined the range of specific Manx surnames and analysed the way in which they have evolved over the centuries. There is a degree of agreement as to the origins of the name Creer which is used today.

It is proposed that the Manx Gaelic name -   Mac yn Fhrir - meaning 'son of the prior'  over time evolved into MacCrere (1511), then MacCrear (1580), Crere (1611) and Creere,  with the first version of Creer being recorded in 1622. At the same time as MacCrere was in use (Mac meaning 'son of') there are also several recorded examples of the name IneCrere, where Ine means 'daughter of'. See 1511-1515 IOM Manorial Rolls

In the 15th and 16th centuries the majority of Manx family names contained the prefix Mac, but most of these have subsequently over the years been contracted to a shorter form, as we can see has happened with MacCrere into Creer. It is for this reason that the range of specifically Manx surnames contain a disproportionate number of names starting with the letter C (and to a lesser extent K and Q).

It is possible that the surname Freer has evolved in a similar manner to that of Creer. Mac yn Fhrir to MacFreer, then ffreer (1607), ffrear (1634) and then Freer (1662). There are many more Creers on the IOM today than Freers.

Many Manx place names incorporate family names, particularly in conjunction with Balla (meaning 'homestead' or' farm'). So Ballafreer is an example based on Freer. It is believed that the only place names associated with Creer are  'Crot e Creere' in Andreas and 'Clypse e Creer' in Onchan. There does not appear to be a Ballacreer.  (The Clypse e Creer farm has now been purchased by the Isle of Man Water Board as part of their development of the Clypse reservoir and the farm has disappeared, although the name still persists. 

Sources:-

  •  "Manx Names" by AW Moore (1903)
  •  "The Personal Names of the Isle of Man" by JJ Kneen (1937)
  •  "Surnames of the Manks" by Leslie Quilliam (1989)
  •  "A Manx Notebook" by Frances Coakley 
 

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