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Wednesday, 12 April 2017


The cardoon flower. Photograph courtesy of  Shihmei Barger
The cardoon (French: "cardon") is a thistle-like vegetable cultivated in the Geneva region. It tastes of artichoke and is popular especially during colder months baked in a gratin sauce (gratin de cardon).


Though it is clear that most Carden branches have their origin in an ancient family which existed in Cheshire long before the Norman invasion, the East Kent branches appear from DNA evidence to have a separate origin.  The late Joan Carden of Spain speculated that they descended from a Cardon mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Domesday Book.

In about 1086 William the Conqueror instructed that the ownership of all land in England be established and recorded in what came to be known as the Domesday Book.  This mentions William Cardon several times as follows, in the Essex volume (Phillimore, London and Chichester, 1983, ISBN 0 85033 484 5):-

Page 10.  Hundred of Uttlesford.  From this manor William Cardon, a man of G(eoffrey) de Mandeville’s, wrongfully received 24 acres of woodland when Swein was Sheriff, as the Hundred testifies.

Page 20.  Hundred of Uttlesford.  To this manor was attached 1 Freeman with 3 virgates before 1066, whom William Cardon holds for G(eoffrey) de Mandeville’s Holding.  He paid 2p per year.

Page 90.  (WILLIAM CARDON’S ANNEXATION).  In the Hundred of Uttlesford.  William Cardon appropriated 1 Freeman with 8 acres.  He belongs to (Great) Chishill, of Geoffrey de Mandeville’s Holding.  Value 2s.

Thus it appears that at the time of the survey, 1086, William Cardon was working for Geoffrey de Mandeville, one of the many followers of William given confiscated land.

The late Joan Carden suggested that William Cardon was brought from Normandy by de Mandeville, so the French origin for the name, claimed by various books, may have some foundation.  But he equally well might have been on the land before the conquest.

French origin of the name

Cardon means thistle in French. It is possible that Geoffrey de Mandeville distinguished himself from other knights when fully disguised in armour, by wearing a thistle on his helmet.  This sort of thing was very common, the most famous example being the Plantagenets.  Geoffrey, Count of Anjou (1113–1151), father of Henry II, often wore in his hat a sprig of broom, planta genista.  De Mandeville’s retainers may have been known by the name Cardon accordingly.

Companions of the Conqueror.

It is believed that in 1066 William the Conqueror set sail for England from Dives-sur-Mer near Caen in Normandy.  In the church there is a plaque, occupying an area of over 200 square feet, listing the supposed companions of the conqueror.  It was erected in 1862.  The list was drawn up by the French Society of Archaeology, with the approval of the Bishop of Bayeux and others.  There are about 500 names including Geoffroi de Mandeville and Guillaume Cardon.

Most such lists are rather suspect but the inclusion of de Mandeville and Carden in this list is significant.

Modern Cardins in France

Many Cardens in England and USA spell their name Cardin, which is believed to be a variant of the original Carden name.  The question is often raised as to whether there is any connection with the famous Pierre Cardin brand name.

In 2004 Christian Cardin of Gravelines, France, submitted a sample for DNA analysis.  The result did not show anything in common with Cardens belonging to either the Cheshire or East Kent branches of the family.  It would have been remarkable and truly exciting if it had done so, and the failure to match our English haplotypes proves little.

Christian Cardin wrote:

About my family name and ancestors, what I know is that the roots of my family is from Normandy, specially on the west coast of the Cotentin (at least until the 16th century, corresponding of the period during which I found documentation).

Some years ago, I tried to know by telephone number (by statistics) what was the repartition of the Cardin name in France. When you report the number of the Cardin family name on a French map, you see that this name is current in three areas as follows:
in Normandy on the west coast of the Cotentin (where I come from) around
the town of Coutances (about 70 kilometers in the south of Cherbourg); in north Brittany around the town of St Brieuc; and in south Brittany around the town of Nantes.

It is amazing and strange to remark that we find these three groups on the west coast of France where it is believed that the Norman and Anglo-Saxon invaders came in the old time. It is why until now I think that the Cardin name was from Anglo-Norman origin (may be from Cari-den, which could mean Cari, a Viking name, the strong) and had a similar origin with the Carden name in England and not with a Germanic word (Richard : Ric Hard which means the strong King) as it is related in the traditional French genealogy books.

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