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About the study
Major changes have come about in genealogy research. Originally books and pamphlets were published and information was exchanged through the mail. Today there is a wide variety of websites for the storage of data and family trees. Now the challenge is to link all the histoical records, including census, military and various indexes with family trees, such as the Courtney Worldwide Database.
The Courtney Worldwide Database is hosted by Ancestry.com. Presently it includes over 64,000 names. Information has been gleaned from Ancestry.com, the Courtney Chronicle, FamilySearch.org, Findagrave.com as well as various books and articles.
One major feature is links for every Courtney (including variations) for the 10,000 + Courtneys found in the 1900 U.S. Census. Links are for the census, Findagrave and family trees. Access is free for members of the Courtney DNA Project.
Work on the Database has been an intense ongoing process for many years. And as such additions and corrections are being made daily. This project is multi-faceted so please check out each link as our attempt is to connect many resources.
Although the most common variations on the surname are Courtenay, Courteney, Courtney, Coatney and Cotney, the number of name variations is almost endless. In earlier times most people were not literate and many record keepers were less than careful in their interpretation of the spellings of surnames.
The following is a list of the more commonly encountered spellings:
Catney, Caurtney, Coartney, Coatney, Cortney, Cotanay, Cotaney, Coteney, Cotney, Countey, Coureton, Courtaney, Courteen, Courtenay, Courteney, Courtley, Courtnay, Courtney, Courtny, Coutney, McCoatney, McCortney, McCourtenay, McCourtney
Historical occurrences of the name
The family takes it name from Athon de Courtenay, who fortified the castle of Courtenay in 1010 A.D. in the Gâtinais (Loiret), France about 65 miles SE of Paris.
Quote - Local. A town of France which stands on a hill on the banks of the small river Clairy, about fifty—six miles south of Paris. This small town has imparted its name to several princes, whose actions are celebrated in French history. The name signifies "The court near the water."
— An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names (1857) by William Arthur
The family was French in origin, not Norman as some have suggested. They were distinguished in the crusades. The family left France is 1152 for England, leaving behind a daughter who was married to Peter, the son of the King of France, Louis VI. Peter assumed de Courtenay as his surname and the family left its name on several Emperors of Constantinople.
The English branch married well and left many important historical personages. They become associated with the West country and for generations have held the title of Earl of Devon.
In the last 400 years the family has settled in the Americas, S.Africa and Australia. And during that time frame the name has absorbed many other surnames, such as O'Cournane and McCourt in Ireland. So today people who carry the name are of many different genetic branches. The hope for this project is to increase the numbers of Courtneys testing and to help everyone connect with others of similar lines.
The definitive sources of information on the history of the Courtenays are:
Genealogical History of the Noble and Illustrious Family of Courtenay by Ezra Cleaveland 1735
Genetic genealogy became available in the early 2000's. As a result it has enabled genealogists to separate families out into separate branches. In the United States we now believe there were 25 distinct families living in the country prior to 1800. All of those families leaving male descendants have been YDNA tested. With the mass migrations in the mid and late 19th century the population of Courtneys increased greatly. YDNA testing has helped descendants of those immigrants in many cases to determine there county of origin in the British Isles.
Our knowledge base has increased greatly to the point that for most families we know which families they were related to that were of other surnames. The timeframe of 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. is no longer necessarily unknown.
DNA results can be accessed by clicking on one of the links below.:
Courtney DNA Project - Social Media