Cornwall, one of the original six "Celtic nations" is the homeland to the surname Curnow. A revival of the Cornish language which began in the 9th century AD has begun. No doubt this was the language spoken by distant forebears of the Curnow family. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Many Cornish surnames appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames. The name Curnow is a local type of surname and the Curnow family lived in the county of Cornwall in southwest England.