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John R. Carpenter
La Mesa, CA USA
Guild of One-Name Studies, Member No. 8001
Carpenter (Carpentier & Charpentier) Registered ONS

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)(2)(6)

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, though its use as a secondary name or description in the Domesday Book of 1086 might have precedence.(3)

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.  This related to Artificer - 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 language carbad for carriage or cart, and is probably related to the Gaulish karros.(2)

Carpenter Cousins Project

The Carpenter Cousins Project is primarily a North American genealogical project whose ancestors are primarily from Europe. One goal is the collection of documented genealogies and family histories.  Other goals support immigrant research, Y-DNA research (see next section) and general support for its members. This project is open to all Carpenter Cousins and those with related surnames who are willing to submit their documented ancestry. It also uses two email support forums for general discussions. See more on the web page.

Y-DNA Surname Project

A human Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) surname project exists for both Carpenter and its related variants, and the related names in German (Zimmerman(n)), French (Carpentier & Charpentier), and other languages with their name variants within a single project.(4)

Y-DNA is passed from father to son virtually unchanged over the generations. Y-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.(4)

As of June 2018, the Y-DNA Project is active with 35 organized groups, one semi-organized group of genetic near matches based on Haplogroup R-M269, called Group 98. There is one random results group called Group 99. There appears to be about 440 tested members with the majority (415) from tested at Family Tree DNA and the others from different DNA testing companies for genetic genealogy.(4)

Sub-grouping within the group is done in two ways. 1) By Genealogy 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.(4)

Two groups in particular (Groups 2 and 3) have 24 out of 25 markers in common. In many Y-DNA surname projects these two groups would have been listed as one group. However, each group has a distinct immigrant ancestor who came to the Americas in 1635 and 1638.  Further testing to 111 Y-DNA markers, including specialized testing on individual Y-STR markers, have provided a clearer separation of based on DNA values.(4)

Summary of discriminants between Groups 2 and 3: 
DYS464d (13 to 25 FTDNA Y-DNA marker set) 
Group 2 = 16 
Group 3 = 17 
DYS413a (38 to 67 set) 
Group 2 = 21 
Group 3 = 22 

DYS635 (68 to 111 set) 
Group 2 = 23 
Group 3 = 24

Groups 2 and 3 combined represent the largest group of tested members of the Carpenter Cousins Y-DNA Project. A section entitled "Carpenter Sketches" documents the immediate extended families of these two Carpenter immigrant families.(4)

Haplogrouping is consistent within the organized groups, but is not focused on by this genetic-genealogy surname project. Haplogroups and their haplotypes help reveal deep ancestry based on mathematical probability and tries to relate to old world prehistoric cultures, groups or climes. The most common western European Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA), also known as the Haplogroup R1b  is cited as the Western Atlantic Modal Haplogroup (WAMH), shows up in the majority of the groups. This is not unexpected with the majority of tested members claiming Western Europe as a possible location for their ancestors. Those who have this more common haplogroup should test 37 or more Y-STR markers, while others can start at a 25 markers Y-DNA test. When in doubt start at 37 markers.(4)

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 Lineage page. 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.(4)

To request joining this Y-DNA Surname Project with testing via Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) please click here. Those who test via other Y-DNA testing companies are also welcome by contacting the project administrator, John R. Carpenter. (4)

Carpenter name variants
Carpenter name variants include:

  • Wright - Woodwright in old England Such as a "wood wright" (wood worker). See also "wainwright", from "wain wright" (a wooden wagon maker).
  • Carpentier and Charpentier - From the French Norman Carpentier (le Carpentier, le Charpentier), a worker of wood, derived from the late Latin "carpentarius", a maker of wooden carriages. French Surnames > CARPENTIER ++, Forme norm.-picarde de Charpentier; var. du Sud-Ouest et roussillonnase Carpentier. Avecart. Le Carpentier. 
  • Carpender' - An English phonetic name variant of Carpenter. Also seen as Carpendar.

Carpenter in other languages

* Mac an tSaoir - Irish for "son of the descendants of the workman", anglicized as MacIntyre or Macintyre, Carpenter (particularly in and around Dublin), and other related names, sometimes incorrectly as Freeman.(5)
* Ács - Carpenter in Hungarian.
* Agaççy - Carpenter in Turkey.
* Carpentiere - Carpenter in Italian, a worker of wood, from the Latin "carpentarius".
* Carpintero & Carpenteiro - Carpenter in Spanish. A worker in wood, from the Latin "carpentarius".
* Chippie - An United Kingdom and Australian slang for a carpenter. Can be used for either the occupation or surname.
* Dailidė - Carpenter in Lithuanian.
* De Carpenter or  De Carpentier - Dutch for "the carpenter", a worker of wood, from the French Carpentier.
* Plotnikov - Carpenter in Russian.
* Puusepp - Carpenter in Estonian.
* Cieśla and Cymerman - Carpenter in Polish.
* Simmerman - alternate of Timmerman, both seen in Western Europe.
* Tâmplaru - Carpenter in Romanian.
* Tesař & Teslyar - Carpenter in Czech.
* Timmerman - Carpenter in Dutch, a worker of wood, from the German Zimmerman.
* Tischler and Schreiner, which are also surnames, are German names for woodworking names/professions related to the English language word Carpenter.
* Tømmermann - Carpenter in Norwegian.
* Zimmerman(n) - German for a worker in wood. The double n may or may not have religious implication.

(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) The English meaning of carpenter is from the occupation of one who makes wooden objects and structures by shaping wood. 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) Carpenter Cousins Y-DNA Project, accessed June 2018.

(5) Thomas O'Connor: Carpenter, John (1729-86). In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004,, PDF version, accessed 7 Jan 2012.

See: also: 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.

See also: 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.

NOTE: Carpenter is not an Irish name in origin, but may have been adopted as a result of a 1465 law enacting that "every Irishman that dwells betwixt or amongst Englishmen in the County of Dublin, Myeth, Vriell, and Kildare ... shall take to him an English Surname of ... arte or science, as ... carpenter." This per 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.

NOTE2:  The Carpenter surname was recorded in Ireland as early as 1636. See: 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. See also: 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.

NOTE3: In County Kerry, the surname is said to be that of an English family who settled on estates near Tralee as a result of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. See: Michael C. O'Laughlin: Families of County Kerry, Ireland, Irish Genealogical Foundation, Kansas City, Mo., 1994, p. 19.</ref> After the Restoration in 1660, John Carpenter, Philip Carpenter, Capt. Phillip Carpenter, and Lt. Thomas Carpenter were among the "Forty-Nine (i.e, 1649) Officers" who supported the Royalist cause in the Irish Confederate Wars rewarded with grants of land in Ireland. See: 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.

NOTE4:  The 1659 census of County Limerick listed Carpenter as a family surname in Balliea townland, Small County Barony, and among the tituladoes (principal residents) in the barony of Cosmay in Limerick.See: 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.

NOTE5: Many of the MacIntyres of Northern Ireland are believed to be descended from the Scottish Clan MacIntyre whose ancient seat was in Lorne, Scotland. A documented instance of the surname Carpenter being adopted by an Irish McIntyre in America is that of Ireland-born brothers Owen Patrick McIntyre of Placer County, California and Michael Carpenter of Ottawa County, Michigan as shown in McIntyre's last will & testament dated August 25, 1875 and filed September 11, 1875 naming his brother Michael to direct the education of his nephew and namesake Michael's son Owen Patrick Carpenter. See: 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.

(6) Wikipedia: Carpenter (surname)