Updated June 9, 2019

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Family name origins & meanings

  • Southern French : from cabot, a diminutive of Occitan cap ‘head’, hence a nickname for someone with some peculiarity of the head.
  • John Cabot, born in Jersey in the Channel Islands in 1680, settled in Salem, MA, in 1700. Although not among the earliest American immigrants, the Cabots were, by the end of the 18th century, the preeminent family of New England. By 1800 they were extremely rich, largely on account of privateering during the American Revolution, smuggling, and trade in slaves and opium. In the 19th century, they branched out into oil and gas production, railroads, and chemicals. The Cabots sustained their wealth and social position well into the 20th century, largely by carefully arranging their marriages and sending most of their sons to Harvard.