Carpenter (surname)

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Family name
PronunciationKar' pen tar
Meaningworker or fixer of wood, builder of wood
Related namesZimmermann, Zimmerman, Carpentier, Charpentier
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Family name
PronunciationKar' pen tar
Meaningworker or fixer of wood, builder of wood
Related namesZimmermann, Zimmerman, Carpentier, Charpentier

Carpenter is a surname. Its use as a forename or middle name is rare. Within the United States, it is ranked as the 189th-most common surname.[1] The English meaning of carpenter is one who makes wooden objects and structures by shaping wood.[2]


Common use of the Carpenter surname in the English language is seen circa 1275-1325 in Middle English. Its use prior to this time as a surname has roots in the Anglo-Norman French introduced into England about the time of the Norman conquest of England of 1066. The earliest attested use as a surname in English is from 1121,[3] though its use as a secondary name or description in the Domesday Book of 1086 might have precedence.

In Old French, the surname was commonly written as "Carpentier" and its earlier form as "Charpentier". Its use as a surname may have derived as a nickname or description of one's occupation circa 900-1000.[2]

All of these variations come from the Late Latin carpentārĭus, denoting use as an artifex[4] - a wagon or carriage-maker equal to a wainwright. The roots of carpentārĭus come from the Latin carpentum, meaning a two-wheeled carriage or a form of chariot not used directly for warfare in the community by women and others, plus arius - used in the masculine form as a noun denoting an agent of use from other nouns. It may be related to the Old Irish carpat and the Gaulish carbad for carriage or cart, and is probably related to the Gaulish karros.[2]

Carpenter name variants[edit]

Carpenter name variants include:

Carpenter in other languages[edit]

Y-DNA project[edit]

A Y-DNA surname project exists for both Carpenter and its related variants, and the related names in German (Zimmerman), French (Charpentier), and other languages with their name variants within a single project.[18]

Y-DNA is passed from father to son virtually unchanged over the generations. DNA has documented that Carpenter, Zimmerman, Charpentier and other related surnames do not have a single common root. While grouping does exist, it seems by parent or native country rather than regional via the most common ancestor.[18]

As of August 2009, the Y-DNA project is active with 20 organized groups with number 20 representing genetic near matches (Group 98) and random results (Group 99). There appears to be about 240 tested members with the majority (215) from Family Tree DNA and the others from different DNA testing companies for genetic genealogical testing. Sub-grouping within the group is done in two ways. 1) By genealogical paper trails or the lack thereof resulting in connections genealogically and genetically related then genetically related but not connected genealogically. 2) By Y-DNA markers representing genetic mutations or a genetic distance or variance from the group norm. These mutations within the group can form genetic sub-grouping if confirmed by genealogical material. The possibility of a random mutation occurring in different lines must always be considered in DNA testing and is called a random match. Project administrators have paid special attention to these mutations for group association. Two groups in particular (Groups 2 and 3) have 24 out of 25 markers in common. Further testing, including specialized testing on individual Y-STR markers, have provided a clearer separation of based on DNA values.[18]

Haplogrouping is consistent within the organized groups 1-19, but is not focused on by this genetic-genealogy project. Haplogroups and their haplotypes help reveal deep ancestry based on mathematical probability and tries to relate to prehistoric or estimated cultures, groups or climes. The common western European Haplogroup, R1b, also known as the Western Atlantic Modal Haplogroup (WAMH), shows up in the majority of the groups which is not unexpected with the majority of tested members claiming Europe as a possible location for their ancestors. Those who have this more common haplogroup should test 37 or more Y-STR markers while most others can start at a 25 markers Y-DNA test.[18]

All groups have made an effort to provide a basic paternal lineage that is listed on a separate page and can be accessed via ID numbers on Table 1 or via the Table of Contents “Lineages” hyperlink. Only one paternal lineage claims descent more than 600 years. This is consistent with common genealogy trends and results. While Y-DNA testing will never replace proper genealogical efforts, it is valuable in confirming genetic relationships and non-relationships.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Census Bureau; "Frequently Occurring First Names and Surnames From the 1990 Census, (Table) Name Files dist.all.last"; published May 9, 1995; <>
  2. ^ a b c Combined from several sources including: Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 1996 by Barnes & Noble Books, and Concise Oxford Dictionary - 10th Edition by Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper, 2001-2010, accessed April 13, 2010.
  4. ^ See also Artificer
  5. ^ Frances McDonnell: Jacobites of Lowland Scotland, England, Ireland, France and Spain, 1745, Clearfield Company, Inc., Baltimore, Md., 2000, p. 35.
  6. ^ Thomas O'Connor: Carpenter, John (1729-86). In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004,, PDF at, n.d., accessed 7 Jan 2012.
  7. ^ Rev. Patrick Woulfe: Irish Names and Surnames, Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes, originally published in Dublin, 1923, reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md., 1967; p. 318.
  8. ^ John O'Hart: Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, 1892, reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md., 1989, p. 307fn.
  9. ^ Sir Robert E. Matheson: Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numerical Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution; Based on Information Extracted from the Indexes of the General Register Office, Alex. Thom & Co. (Ltd.), Dublin, 1909, p. 15.
  10. ^ Sir Arthur Vicars: Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810, 1897, reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md., 1989, p. 77.
  11. ^ Sir Robert E. Matheson, LL.D.: Varieties and Synonymes of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland, 1909, reprinted as Special Report on Surnames in Ireland, with Notes as to Numerical Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md., 1982, p. 41.
  12. ^ Michael C. O'Laughlin: Families of County Kerry, Ireland, Irish Genealogical Foundation, Kansas City, Mo., 1994, p. 19.
  13. ^ John O'Hart: The Irish and Anglo-Irish Landed Gentry When Cromwell Came to Ireland; A Supplement to Irish Pedigrees, M.H. Gill & Son, Dublin, 1884, p. 377.
  14. ^ Michael C. O'Laughlin: Families of Co. Limerick Ireland from the Earliest Times to the 20th Century...Including English, Scots, & Anglo Norman Settlers and Settlements, Irish Genealogical Foundation, Kansas City, Mo., 1997, p. 41.
  15. ^ Matheson, p. 41.
  16. ^ Woulfe, op.cit.
  17. ^ California State Society, DAR: Wills and Abstracts of Wills from California Counties, Volume I, California DAR Genealogical Records Committee Report, Series 1, Volume 91, 1957, p. 66.
  18. ^ a b c d e Carpenter Cousins Y-DNA Project, accessed August 2, 2009.