- CRISP: Curly
- Latin crispus: curly-haired
- O.Fr. crespe: curled
One place the Crispe family takes it's origin in the northern portion of France, where as early as 1027, we find they were land owners, and by occupation, horseshoe-smiths. In the Archaeological Archives at Paris can be seen a great variety of deeds, wills, abstracts and contracts that contain the name of Crispe. There is every evidence possible that they were among the active and prominent people of Northern France and they were enlisted in the French armies as early as 1016.
Among the Crispe people there were a large number who devoted their time to horseshoeing, and this leads us to determine the derivation of the name Crispe. In the study of history, we find that the people of old were accustomed to applying the name of their trade to the individual; often the name was derived from some special trait of the person, or the peculiar place of his abode; hence, the Miller, Baker, Smith, Carpenter, Hill, Black, and Stienhouse. This agrees with the name of Crispe - in French, a "shoer". We need not seek far to ascertain why this name was applied to the family, since the earliest know kin of this name gave their attention to the making of "horseshoes". And we are thoroughly convinced of this when we examine the heraldic emblems which adorn the family escutcheon; for we find that there are emblazoned on the family shield several horseshoes.
In England, Crisp is a county name in that it is prinicpally confined to two or three counties -- an ancient East Anglian name (i.e. Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridge). The name is more likely to have been associated with a curly haired person than a farrier. However, the case of one William Crispin of the 11th century suggests a linkage between the English Crisp to the French Crispe. Planché's manuscript on William Crispin "from whom so many of the noblest houses in England claim a descent " makes mention of several French names. e.g. Boulogne or Simon de Montfort l'Aumary. According to Halberts Historiography of the Crisp surname "a Gilbert le Crisp (Crispe), is shown in the Costumes of Battle Abbey, as flourishing in the year 1311." Is it a coincidence that William had a brother named Gilbert Crispin?
The name Crisp occurred commonly in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon in the 13th century. There was a gentleman of Connington, Cambridgeshire, bearing the name Thomas Crispe in 1433. In Norfolk, where it is still established, it was represented as far back as the 14th century. In 1388, Richard Crispe was patron of the living of Cockthorp, to which he presented one of the family; another Richard Crispe was buried in Frenze church in 1517. In 1648 the daughter of the "Worshipfull Mr. Nic. Crispe, Marchant Adventurer of London," was buried at Norwich. Nicholas Crisp, Esq., was one of the county commissioners for Cornwall in the time of Cromwell, i.e. 1650s.
In later times an important family of Crispe established itself in Kent. The Crispes of Quekes in Birchington, Kent, who possessed the manor of Quekes in the 16th and 17th century filled the office of high sheriff of Kent in the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, and Nicholas Crispe was knighted. There were several branches of this family, of which that of West Ham (then Essex) in the 17th century was said to be one. The Crispes of Quekes are said to have descended from an ancient family of Stanlake, Oxfordshire. In the 17 century a gentle family of Crisp resided at Marshfield, Gloucestershire.