Cadzow: a brief history

The Cadzow family is one of the most ancient names of Scotland and Europe. Cadzow comes from the Gaelic word ‘Cadihou’, a name that literally means ‘beautiful castle’ in that language.

Another view says that Cadiou is a family name that has its roots in Breton, the Celtic portion of north-western France. (A branch of that family, the Cadieux, arrived in French Canada from western France in 1654. Today, there are several variations of the name in French Canada, including Cadieu, that are phonetically recognizable against the Scots variations of the name Cadzow.)

In Clan Hamilton history, some describe Cadzow as the “ancient name of Hamilton” — though by the most believable account this does not mean that Hamiltons descended from the original Cadzows.

There are two mentions of the Cadzow name during the 6th century. The first is in the story of the Glasgow coat of arms. The second is in the story of Rederech, the 6th century ruler of Strathclyde. Both stories cross the path of St. Mungo, a prominent Celtic cleric of that day. 

King David I of Scotland (1124-1153) made Cadzow a Royal Barony in the 12th century.

In the 14th century, the Cadzow family lived on the lands of the Barony of Cadzow just outside present-day Hamilton, Scotland, until they made a fateful decision to side with the English. Following the famous battle at Bannockburn (1314), the Barony of Cadzow lands were awarded to a father and son duo whose progenitors became the Hamiltons. 

Following this, the name of the family manor in Cadzow was changed to ‘Hamilton’ by Royal Charter in 1445. The name of Cadzow gradually faded from the map and Hamilton came into focus. The full story of the Cadzow Oaks was written by Ian Hamilton, QC, and published in the July, 1996, issue of the SCOTTISH BANNER.

The Cadzow family name has a number of alternate spellings, such as Cadyhow, Caidyoth, Cadiou, Cadzhowe, Cadioche, Cadioch, as found in various records by Nigel Cadzow. He put together some historical snippets about Cadzow and other Cadzow-related names.

Today, Cadzow family members occupy homes in every corner of the earth, including their homeland in Scotland. 

Looking to do some Scottish genealogy research?

Recording family history on your computer:

  • Reunion, by Leister Productions, is the best genealogy program for Macintosh.
  • Family Tree Maker is the one I hear about most often for PCs (it now works on a Mac too).
  • GEDCOM is a standard by which different genealogy programs can share information.
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  1. Dear Sir,

    My name is Bastien Cadiou from Britanny. I contact you because I am researching the origins of my last name. I know my last name is an ancient Celtic name. In your article, you say that Cadzow comes from the Celtic word cadihou and then you talk about the surname Cadiou in Brittany. Moreover, the pronunciation of Cadzow is close to the french pronunciation of Cadiou. I would like to know if you think that Cadiou and Cadzow have the same origins. Thank you for your work, I learned a lot.

    Yours sincerely,
    Bastien Cadiou

  2. From the information we have, it seems fair to say there’s likely a connection — although what that connection is exactly, we may never know.

    The first instance of the name Cadzow (with that spelling) can be found in documents that date from the 6th century. But keep in mind that consistent surnames in a single family (at least in Scotland) didn’t become the practice until the latter part of the last millennium, so actually tracing an ancestral line would be impossible with the information and technology we have today.

    So while it’s possible they stem from a single ancient name (similar to the way that many of the words in Euro-based languages come from latin words) there’s no way to prove it. The best I can say is that I’d love to call you a distant family cousin!


  3. Thank you for your quick reply. Indeed it will probably be impossible to prove it even if certain points indicate a strong connection:

    Strathclyde, where Cadzow is mentioned, was a Brittonic kingdom and we know that part of the Britons fled the invasion of Scots and Picts in Brittany. That could explain the arrival of the name Cadiou in Brittany. Knowing that my name is one of the oldest in Brittany.

    In addition, the oral communication was often privileged over writing. This could explain the variations of the name based on the pronunciation heard. As it appears in your article “1000 years of Cadzow” where David de Cadzow appears with different writing in the texts (Cadiou, Cadyhow …).


  4. hello, iam Daniel Cadzow’s blood granddaughter, i’ve been to his trading post in rampart many times., in past years my mother Nellie Cadzow was Daniel’s only daughter, Donald was his nephew i have so many pictures of him up at Rampart House,my grampa Daniel has 11 grand children by his daughter Nellie and her husband Thomas Carroll.i’ve been doing research on my gramps Daniel for 10 years,i’ve found interesting stuff, etc,such a wonderful person he was,,,

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