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About the study

I have been working on the CATH surname for about 15 years now, though I was lucky to have all my father's and great uncle's work to build on. I have found 3 main trees - my father's, based in England with a branch in USA; a different USA tree with people mainly in NY state, that could possibly be related to the English family (DNA testing needed here!); and a completely separate Dutch family who took the name in 1811 when Napoleon organised Holland and everyone had to take a surname rather than use patronymics, as before that date.

Variant names

The spelling of CATH seems to be very steady, though I have not been able to trace it back further than the mid-1700's yet. An occasional CATHE occurs in isolation.
The name KATH is common in Germany (and USA with emigration), but I am not researching it.
The Scottish name CATHIE is not related, as far as I know.
There are a few Irish McCATHs, but again, I do not think they are related.

Name origin

Not known. Gaelic CATH can mean 'battle', but I don't know if that is relevant.

Historical occurrences of the name

My earliest known ancestor, John CATH, apparently came to London aged about 16 and was possibly 
Johan Diderich Cathe, christened on 12 Oct 1749 in the Evangelisch church in Detmold, Lippe, Germany,
son of Conrad Theodorus Anthon Cathe.
John married Hannah JUDD in London in 1778 and they had 7 children, only one of whom, William, b 1789, had children of his own who survived. He is my 3rd-great-grandfather and I have a portrait of him, painted about 1840. John and his eldest son, also John, traded in London and had import/export connections with New York. For this reason, there is a possibility that the NY family is connected.

One of the early NY family married a SEAMAN bride, one of the original 'Mayflower' settlers, which has been extensively researched in USA.

The Dutch family has also been researched by one of its members and a small book writtien about it. They have kindly shared this with me. The Dutch record offices have also been most useful in building this tree.

Name frequency

This is a pretty rare name. It is also one that lends itself to mis-transcription (CASH or COTH being the commonest, but a whole range of odd spellings have been found). In the UK 1881 census, there were only 25 entries (when corrected!) and there are about 48 CATHs alive today from this family, some in USA.
Both the NY and Dutch families still have some CATHs alive today.

Distribution of the name

From the original London family, CATHs are now spread across the south of England and in USA.
The NY family has spread out a little from their NY state beginnings to other parts of the USA.
The Dutch family have also spread from their north Holland origins to many parts of Holland as well as abroad, including to New Zealand.


Trees for all three families. The UK tree has been extensively researched along female lines in many cases.
I have full UK census and BMD information, as well as what I have been able to find prior to this in parish registers. I have some wills, a few personal papers, two portraits and some old photos.
There are also a number of UK CATH(E) documents found by FONS for me, some of which do not connect to the family as I have it now.
I have also checked USA sources - censuses, the SSDI, and so on. These throw up CATHs with no known connections to the trees I have, often of German origin that could have been KATH that was changed to CATH on arrival in USA.


My brother has had his Y-DNA tested by Family Tree DNA for 111 markers. I hope to find one of the NY family willing to have his done as well, to determine if there might be a connection or not - so far no luck  getting a volunteer there.
I have had a Family Finder DNA test done as well.