I was reminded yesterday about the Surname Profiler website which has distribution maps and statistics for surnames in Great Britain based on the 1881 census and the 1998 electoral register. The database has a total of 84 Cruwys in 1881 but unfortunately as there were fewer than 100 people with the surname in 1998 no statistics for the name are given. The computer-generated map on the website shows that the surname is almost exclusively concentrated in the south-west of England. By cross-checking with the 1881 census index I have established that there were 53 people with the surname living in Devon, eight in Somerset, six in Bristol (which was then in Gloucestershire), six in Surrey, four in Glamorgan, five in Monmouthshire, one in Lancashire, and one in Dorset. However, Cruwys is more often than not mis-spelt by the census enumerators or mistranscribed by the indexers so the name is inevitably under-represented. For instance, eight-year-old Gertrude Cruwys was living in Witheridge in 1881 with her grandmother Ellen Partridge. She appears in the index as Gertrude Cenings and is the only person with this 'surname' listed in the entire census. I have compiled a list of all the deviant spellings in the 1881 census which are known to be mistranscriptions of the surname Cruwys:
Another complication when trying to establish the distribution in 1881 is that many people with the surname Cruwys are in fact indexed under a variant spelling such as Crews or Cruse. These variants have developed into surnames in their own right and it not possible to establish from the census indexes how many genuine Cruwyses are indexed or enumerated with the wrong spelling. I have an example in my own family as my great-grandfather Frederick Augustus Cruwys, who was then a 21-year-old tailor living in Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire, was enumerated as a Cruze. He was a lodger and presumably his landlord did not know how to spell the name. I have also found that some Cruwyses have been mistranscribed as Crumps. I have come across two examples so far in 1881. In Halberton, Devon, Sarah Cruwys, 73, a retired farmer, and her daughter Christian, 35, are listed by the enumerator with their names correctly spelt but they appear in the index as Crumps. In Southwark in 1881 there are four Cruwyses in one household who appear as Crumps. Mary Ann Cruwys née Rutherford, 65, her sons Tom and James Cruwys and daughter in-law Fanny Cruwys are all enumerated under the surname Crump. The entry has been correctly transcribed as the name is clearly written as Crump on the census page so it would appear that the clerk who copied out the page from the original enumerator’s book misread the name. The family grouping is unmistakeable as they are staying with Mary Ann’s married daughter Mary Ann West, 40, and her husband Alfred West, 35.
As a comparison I have included a breakdown of the principal variant surnames in 1881 though at present it is impossible even to begin to estimate how many of these people should really be included in the Cruwys count:
Crump 3235 (includes 6 known Cruwyses)
Cruze 80 (includes 1 known Cruwys)
It is possible to get a rough idea of the comparative ranking and frequency of the surname Cruwys as the Surname Profiler has statistics for the surname Crewes which coincidentally has an identical number of representatives (84) in 1881 as Cruwys but, unlike Cruwys, is also represented in 1998. Crewes is ranked at 19302 in terms of frequency and is used by three in every million people, so Cruwys will have a similar profile.
By 1881 some people with the surname Cruwys had already moved overseas. There were eleven Cruwyses living in Lot 31, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada, all from the same family but divided into two separate households. They appear in the 1881 Canadian census indexes as Cruloys and Cruwy.
There is just one Cruwys listed in the 1880 US census: Mary H Cruwys, a 21-year-old seamstress, who was living in Nether Providence, Delaware, Pennsylvania, in the household of Edward Sellars, a bank clerk. No further information is known about her family at present. Intriguingly, however, the census indicates that Mary was born in Pennsylvania, as were both of her parents.
In 1879 Sarah Cruwys (née Harris) and her family arrived in Australia on the Blair Athole. If there had been a census in 1881 in Australia then there would have been a total of eight Cruwyses listed.
In conclusion, although it can be seen that the surname Cruwys is quite uncommon, it is not quite so rare as it would appear based purely on the evidence of the census indexes.
See also the 1881 Cruwys distribution map.