“Honour and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. Fortune in men has some small difference made, One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade.”
From Memoirs of the Camocks of Co. Down by F. O. Fisher.
When the great force of the Roman Empire attacked Britain 2,000 years ago, its mighty army was stopped just short of a place named “Camb-bogh-gan”, by the first inhabitants, and the Romans renamed it Camboglana. It is now Cambeck and Cammock, corruptly. The nature of the soil and form of the place caused the first name, for there is a great bog, or fenny mire in a bottom of low ground, in the glen or dale near unto the town.’
From the History of the County of Cumberland- Vol. I by William Hutchinson. 1794-1797, contained in The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 9.
The family name Cammock is believed to be descended originally from the Strathclyde Britons. This ancient, founding race of the north were a mixture of Gaelic/Celts whose original territories ranged from Lancashire in the south, northward to the south bank of the River Clyde in Scotland.
It was on a line from the Tyne to Solway Firth that the Romans built their defensive wall. They had been unable to conquer the fiercely independent tribes in the north.
In 400 AD, nearly 400 years after they first arrived in Britain, the Romans withdrew. The Celtic Britons who had been conquered by the Romans were left alone to fight off the invading hordes of heathen Angles and Saxons.
On the Border at Camboglana, from 400 AD to 900 AD, their territory was overrun firstly by the Irish Gaels, then the Angles from the east, and finally the Picts and Dalriadans from the north.
However their basic culture remained relatively undisturbed. By 1,000 AD the race had formed into discernible clans and families, perhaps some of the first evidence of the family structure in Britain. The border of England and Scotland was created on a line from Carlisle in the West, to Berwick in the East. Many Strathclyde families straddled the border but continued to be unified clans, powers unto themselves. The Border region lists over seventy family names, including Armstrong, Nixon, Graham, Johnson, Bell etc., and the name Cammock is among them.
The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 9.
The northern Border name Cammock is one of the oldest lowland surnames and its history is closely entwined in the rich fabric of the mediaeval chronicles of the border region of Scotland and England.
Careful research of the first documented history of lowland Scotland and northern England, including many private collections of historical and genealogical records, the Inquisitio, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Ragman Rolls, The Hearth Rolls, the Domesday Book, parish cartularies, baptismals, and tax rolls revealed that the first record of the name Cammock was found in Lincolnshire, where “the Cammacks have long been in the county. Four mayors of Boston bore the name of Cammock in the reign of James I.
Since the early and middle development of the name many different spellings were found in the archives researched, typically linking each alternate to the root source of the surname. Although the name, Cammock, occurred in many references, from time to time the surname was spelt Cammock, Cammack, Cammac, Cammok, Camic and Camac, and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes and church officials recorded the name from its sound, sometimes changing the spelling on each occasion of the same person’s birth, death or marriage. Preferences for different spelling variations also came from a division of the family, or had religious reasons, or patriotic reasons.
As mentioned the family name Cammock is believed to be descended originally from the Strathclyde Britons. The Strathclyde Britons were divided into three sub-kingdoms, the Selgovians south of the Clyde, the Novantii in Galloway in south-west Scotland, and the Rhiged to the south in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire.
From 400 A.D. to 900 A.D. their territory was overrun firstly by the Irish Gaels, then the Angles from the east, and, finally the Picts and Dalriadans from the north. More recently there was a Viking influence as the Kings of Man attempted coastal landings.
By the 16th and 17th centuries many of our modern family names descended directly from this ancient race, including Cammock. Many of these families were later found scattered, not only throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, but all over the world, surnames which can now be traced back to this locality and time period. Tracing its ancient development, the name Cammock was found in Cumberland where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Cammok in that shire. John de Cammok was recorded late in the 14th century on those estates. However, with the turbulence of the border area, they were found a century later to be holding land at Carruchran north of the border in Scotland, and they also acquired lands in Knockwalloche in Dumfriesshire. By the middle of the 17th century many of the name had migrated to Ireland and those who were interested will find the “Memoirs of the Cammacs of County Down” published in Norwich, England in 1897 to be of great interest. Meanwhile William Camac of Mansfield Street, Carlisle, also of Hastings, intermarried with the Briscos of that county.
Notable amongst the family at this time was William Camac of Carlisle; and Sussex Camock (or Cammock) (1600-1659), an English privateer who was involved in establishing the Providence Island colony. He was born in Maldon, Essex and was the brother of Captain Thomas Cammock. His exploits inspired John Masefield and his character for the old Pirate Captain Cammock in his 1933 book Captain Margaret.
The natural division of Scotland and England, an arbitrary line from Carlisle to Berwick, posed an artificial division to the unity of the ancient Strathclyde Britons and their family groupings. To the north they became Scottish, to the south English. However, many of the family structures would continue to be unified clans, powers unto themselves, owing little allegiance to either Scotland or England, having territories and political interests on both sides of the border.
Soon after the Norman Conquest border life was in turmoil. In 1246, six Chiefs from the Scottish side and six from the English side met at Carlisle and produced a set of laws governing all the Border Clans. These were unlike any laws prevailing in England or Scotland or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. For example, it was a far greater offence to refuse to help a neighbour recover his property, wife, sheep, cattle or horses than it was to steal them in the first place. Hence the expression “Hot Trod,” or, a hot pursuit, from which we get the modern “hot to trot.” For refusal of assistance during a “Hot Trod,” a person could be hanged on the instant, without trial. Frequently, the descendants of these clans or families apologetically refer to themselves as being descended from “cattle or horse thieves” when, in fact, it was an accepted code of life on the border. In 1603, the Union of the Scottish and English crowns became reality under King James VI of Scotland, who was also crowned King James 1st of England. The Crown dispersed these “unruly border clans.” In 1587, an Act of Scottish Parliament had condemned certain border families for their lawlessness. Scotland was moving toward breaking up the old “border code.” Hence, the Border Clans were banished to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were outlawed directly to Ireland, the Colonies and the New World. Many of the Border Clans settled in Northern Ireland, transferred between 1650 and 1700 with grants of land provided they “undertook” to remain Protestant. Hence they became known as the “Undertakers.” Many became proudly Irish. In Ireland they settled in County Down.
George Camocke (1666?-1722?), was a Captain in the Royal Navy, renegade, and admiral in the service of Spain, descended from an Essex family, was a native of Ireland. “According to his own statements in numerous memorials to the admiralty (1699-1702), he entered the navy in or about 1682, and, having served five years ‘in his minority’ and three years as a midshipman, was in 1690 ‘made a lieutenant by the lords of the admiralty for boarding a cat that was laden with masts for his majesty’s ships, then riding at Cow and Calf in Norway, with a French privateer of 12 guns lashed on board her, which ship I brought safe to England.’”
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The red hand is either derived from the O’Neill dynasty, once the most prominent Irish clan in Ulster, or the Dextra Dei of early Christian iconography. The Red Hand is rooted in Gaelic culture and, although its origin and meaning is unknown, it is believed to date back to pagan times.
It was afterwards adopted by the O’Neills (Uí Néill) when they assumed the ancient kingship of Ulster (Ulaid), inventing the title Rex Ultonie (king of Ulster) for themselves in 1317 and then claiming it unopposed from 1345 onwards. An early Irish heraldic use in Ireland of the open right hand can be seen in the seal of Aodh Reamhar Ó Néill, king of the Irish of Ulster, 1344–1364.
My 23 And Me ancestry DNA results tell me that my paternal haplogroup is r-a224 which is derived from the more common r-m222, which means I am descended from or share an ancestor with Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary high king of Ireland and founder of the Uí Néill dynasty.
After studying our Cammock family history I was very pleasantly surprised to learn how rich and cultured and how illustrious and prestigious our ancestors were. We originated from the Strathclyde families in the borders of England and Scotland, horse and cattle thieves known as the Border Reivers. Alfred de Cammock was Lord of Askerton Castle in Cumberland in 1157. It was during the reign of Henry II in 1157, that Askerton Castle and the lands held by Alfred de Cammock were seized and granted to Sir Hubert de Vallibus (or de Vaux). The Cammocks then migrated to the South East of England including places such as Essex, Sussex, Lincolnshire and London etc and then in turn, in the 16th and 17th centuries various Cammocks emigrated to Ireland acquiring considerable land and property.
CONTEMPORARY with that bluff monarch (Henry VII. 1485-1509) who united in royal person, “the white rose and the red”, there dwelt in the county of Essex a very worthy gentleman, named JOHN CAMMOCK. His forefathers appear to have been prosperous traders and yeomen, who probably came of a north country stock; (Scottish/English Border), Kirk-Cambeck, or Kirk-Camock, is a decayed parish in Cumberland; where Alfred de Camock held land in the time of Henry II; but no record his posterity has been preserved, whence they seem to have migrated into Essex. The Essex family resided in that county as early as the reign of Edward IV. (1461-1483).
MEMOIRS OF THE CAMOCKS Vol. I’. CHAPTER I. Frank Owen Fisher, contained in The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 43.
The Cammocks have a rich and colourful history. Over the centuries they were gentry who married into nobility and had many connections to Sirs, Lords and Earls etc. There were several Captain Cammocks and one Admiral George Cammock. They were adventurers being heavily involved in the seafaring, Empire and the colonialism, from colonisers of Ireland to pioneers of a colony on the Mosquito Coast of Central America, from colonists of New Providence, Bahamas, to sugar plantation owners in Jamaica. However, they all seem to have returned to the British Isles.
George Cammock and his family were the first Cammocks to settle in Ireland 260 years before .
The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 174.
When, in 1633, the Council determined to despatch another trading venture, to those parts, they instructed Captain Camock to assume supreme command. (1633, Commission from the Company of Providence Island to Captain Sussex Camock) and about midsummer, all being ready, the good ship Golden Falcon weighed and put to sea. (Instructions from same to same. To ‘set’ with his company upon Cape Gratia de Dios, there to discover and maintain a trade with the natives. To preserve the worship of the true God and repress sin. To leave disorderly persons at Providence. Power to employ the Elizabeth at the Cape. Intercourse with the Indians. Employment of the Golden Falcon. Power to buy negroes). Over the broad Atlantic, wafted by boisterous breezes, the expedition journeyed to the island of Providence. Thence after a brief sojourn with Captain Bell, the governor, (Same to Captain Bell, governor. Instructions concerning Captain Camock should he leave any person in the island), they continued their voyage to Cape Gracios a Dios, and finally arriving at that destination they encamped among the Indians of the Mosquito Coast. There amid the savannahs and lagoons of Central America, the little band of Englishmen erected a tiny stronghold, as a shelter from the natives and more civilized enemies, who dwelt in the West Indies and upon the Spanish Main. Within the storehouses that stood beneath its walls the adventurers collected a quantity of native produce, of which the most valuable was a Species of silken flax, which grew about the neighborhood in some profusion. Filled with this cargo their vessel reached England, bringing a rich reward to the projectors of the infant colony, who wrote back to their servant commending him for the success, and while promising ‘for his honour and encouragement’ to call the fibre ‘Camock’s Grass,’ they added a more substantial ‘token of their love,’ in the form of a rundlet of sack and a case of strong waters. (1634, Same to Captain Sussex Camock).
MEMOIRS OF THE CAMOCKS Vol. I’. CHAPTER III. Frank Owen Fisher, contained in The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 71 – 72.
He had been assiduous in his duties while in the service of the East India Company and was rewarded, and now says that he has been able to lay by what will make him independent. He entertained a high regard for an uncle (Thomas Camac) who had for some time been living in Jamaica, where he had a large plantation. He writes begging him to abandon the life of a West Indian planter and to return and reside with him in Ireland. Instead of this however, it would seem that Turner was persuaded to visit his uncle at Jamaica and that not long after his arrival there Thomas died. This was about the year 1785. A letter to Turner dated 17th April 1785, about settling the estates, mentions having sold the Negro slaves of his uncle advantageously.
MEMOIRS of the CAMACS OF Co. DOWN by William Masters Camac, contained in The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 127.
The following demonstrates the Cammock’s connections to Empire and the Honourable East India Company.
Upon his arrival in Bengal in 1763 young Jacob Camac, who had not yet obtained his majority, found himself in a country whose internal administration was tottering towards chaos. Some two years later, upon the advent of Lord Clive, when to some extent the Company’s authority had been reorganised, Jacob was promoted to a Captain’s rank and placed in command of the twenty-fourth Bengal battalion and turned over to the Pergunnah establishment. Ordered into Bahar, he took up his quarters at Ranghur, where by maintaining a firm discipline he proved his worthiness of the confidence reposed in him by his chief. Young Camac, it may be surmised, owed his rapid promotion to causes with which he had no part, as there was a military conspiracy raging at that time which disgraced many of his senior officers, but proved a stepping stone to many of the younger ones who afterwards did good service to their country.
MEMOIRS of the CAMACS OF Co. DOWN by William Masters Camac, contained in The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 125.
I have made the connection between Victor S. Cammock’s essay and my Ancestry.com research and family tree. I have confirmed that we do NOT have the illustrious Indian ancestry and direct connections to The Honourable East India Company (HEIC). This is because we come from a different and less illustrious branch of the family tree. Figures! (see images). The ‘Camacs’ seemed to have a more illustrious heritage with wealth, estates, properties and connections to imperialism than the ‘Cammocks’ of Drumhirk. Captain Jacob Camac was the officer of the HEIC who married the Indian lady Mariamissa, of which union gave us Eliza Mariamissa whose descendants are in Ireland. However, Jacob was born 1745 and died September 1, 1784, whereas the line we English Cammock’s are descended from starts with John Cammock (1754 – 1809). See images below. The connection that I made between the essay by Victor S. Cammock and my Ancestry.com family tree is that I discovered that my 3rd great grandfather, Alexander Cammock (1819 – 1850) married Jane Gibson (1819 – 1886) which is shown in a family tree diagram in Victor S. Cammock’s essay. So I made the connection! (See images below).
“In all the family pedigree I have, there is not one mention of the names Adam and Alexander, until we start researching the Cammocks of Drumhirk. Why ? We came across many Adams in Drumhirk and Conlig. It was almost as though, while other branches of the family had changed their family name to Camack and Camac, the Drumhirk Cammocks, kept the old name of Cammock and had made a new start, with the given or Christian names Adam and Alexander.”
The Cammock Family History, by Victor S. Cammock, page 165.
I am fairly confident that my 5th great grandfather was John Cammock (1754 – 1809) who married Martha Bell (1759 – 1800) of Scottish birth. Therefore, my 4th great grandfather was either Alexander Cammock (born 1790) or James Cammock who married Isabella Sloan (born 1790). Note: the image below states Isabella Sloan married James Cammock, however, the image below that from my Ancestry.com family tree states Isabella Sloan married Alexander Cammock.
Either way this means my 3rd great grandfather was another Alexander Cammock (1819 – 1850) who married Jane Gibson (1819 – 1886). And I know that my 2nd great grandfather James Cammock was born in County Down, Northern Ireland in about 1844-1846, the son of Alexander Cammock and Jane Gibson. James Cammock married Agnes Thompson on 20 January 1866 in West Rainton, County Durham, England. They had nine children in 14 years. Therefore, James Cammock and Agnes Thompson (who was also Northern Irish) must have emigrated from County Down, Northern Ireland to County Durham, England prior to 20 January 1866. Though some have moved to other parts of the U.K. and even the USA, my immediate and extended family (Cammocks) were all born and raised in the East of County Durham, England. The above mentioned Irish James Cammock died in January 1907 in Houghton Le Spring, Durham at the age of 62. As mentioned there is also a rare book called ‘Memoirs of The Cammocks of County Down’ by Frank Owen Fisher, which is included in the essay by Victor S. Cammock about the history and ancestry of the Cammock family. I highly recommend you read it! It will blow you away!