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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: German, Irish

Where did the Irish Dillon family come from? What is the Irish Dillon family crest and coat of arms? When did the Dillon family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Dillon family history?

The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman names that arrived in Ireland in the wake of the 12th century invasion by Richard "Strongbow" de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. The surname Dillon belongs to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Originally, these place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. The name of the Dillon family comes from the name of the town of Lyon in central France. In France, the name may also have been a nickname for a fierce or brave warrior, as derived from the Old French word "lion," which meant "lion." The Irish Gaelic form of the surname Dillon is Diolún.


Medieval scribes and church officials spelt names simply the way they sounded, which explains the various name spelling variations of the name Dillon that were encountered when researching that surname. The many spelling variations included: Dillon, Delion, Dilune, Dilon, Dylon, Dillan, Dillen and many more.

First found in at Drumrany in County Westmeath (Irish: An Iarmhí) in the Irish Midlands, province of Leinster, where they were the Barons of Drumrany. The Dillon family is descended from Sir Henry de Leon, a member of a noble Breton family who came to Ireland in 1185, in the service of the Earl of Morton, who later became King John. For de Leon's service, King John granted him MacCarrons territory, part of Annaly, and other vast possessions, including a castle at Dunimon.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dillon research. Another 429 words(31 lines of text) covering the years 1572, 1794, 1624, 1610, 1629, 1629, 1630, 1615, 1672, 1674, 1682, 1691, 1642, 1642, 1605, 1649, 1652, 1633, 1685, 1627, 1689, 1715 and 1713 are included under the topic Early Dillon History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 319 words(23 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dillon Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


During the middle of the 19th century, Irish families often experienced extreme poverty and racial discrimination in their own homeland under English rule. Record numbers died of disease and starvation and many others, deciding against such a fate, boarded ships bound for North America. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Unfortunately, many of those Irish that arrived in Canada or the United States still experienced economic and racial discrimination. Although often maligned, these Irish people were essential to the rapid development of these countries because they provided the cheap labor required for the many canals, roads, railways, and other projects required for strong national infrastructures. Eventually the Irish went on to make contributions in the less backbreaking and more intellectual arenas of commerce, education, and the arts. Research early immigration and passenger lists revealed many early immigrants bearing the name Dillon:

Dillon Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • John Dillon, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763
  • Hannah Dillon, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1796

Dillon Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Pierce N Dillon, aged 17, arrived in New York in 1811
  • Patrick Dillon, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1815
  • Ellen Dillon, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Mrs. Dillon, who landed in New York, NY in 1817
  • Alice Dillon, who settled in New York in 1820

Dillon Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Agnes M. Dillon, who settled in Vermont in 1867-1937


  • Clarence Douglas Dillon (1909-2003), American politician, 57th United States Secretary of the Treasury and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • David Dillon (b. 1951), CEO and Chairman of Kroger Company
  • Jack Dillon (1891-1942), American light heavyweight boxing champion of the world in 1914
  • Matthew Raymond "Matt" Dillon (b. 1964), American Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated actor
  • Sidney Dillon (1812-1892), President of Union Pacific Railroad from 1874 to 1884 and from 1890 until his death in 1892
  • Robert A. Dillon (1889-1944), American screenwriter and film director of the silent era
  • George Hill Dillon (1906-1968), American editor and poet awarded the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
  • Major-General Joseph Vincent DePaul Dillon (1899-1971), American Air Provost Marshal, US Army Air Forces (1946-1953)
  • Brigadier-General Theodore Harwood Dillon (1884-1961), American Deputy Chief of the Transport Corps (1942-1943)
  • John Myles Dillon, Irish classicist and philosopher who was Regius Professor of Greek in Trinity College



  • The Chimm (also Dillon) Book by Ruth Wilson Dillon.
  • The Dillon Family by Elaine Egenes.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Dum spiro spero
Motto Translation: While I have breath I hope.


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  1. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  2. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  3. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  4. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  5. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  6. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  7. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  8. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  9. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  10. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  11. ...

The Dillon Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Dillon Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 24 October 2014 at 11:48.

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