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

Origins Available: English, Scottish

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

The Dunbar surname is derived from the name of the Barony of Dunbar on the North Sea coast near Edinburgh. The place name comes from the Gaelic words "dłn," meaning "a fort," and "barr," meaning "top," or "summit."


Spelling variations of this family name include: Dunbar, Dunbarr and others.

First found in the barony of Dunbar in the Lothians where they held a family seat from very ancient times; ever since the 11th century, when Cospatrick was deprived of his Earldom of Northumberland by William the Conqueror, and fled to Scotland. There he was granted the lands of Dunbar and Lothian, Cumnock in Ayrshire, and Mochrum in Wigtown by Malcolm Ceanmore, the King of Scotland. Traditionally, the family descend from Crinan of Dunkeld, the Earl of Northumberland, ancestor of both King Duncan I (d. 1040) and the Earls Gospatrick, who were the later the Earls of March. Of this line, Patrick V, Earl of March (c.1285-1369) gave English King Edward II sanctuary at the fortress of Dunbar Castle following the Battle of Bannockburn. He was one of the Scottish nobles, who signed, the declaration of Scottish independence to the Pope dated at Arbroath on 6 April 1320. He was married to the infamous "Black Agnes," (Agnes Dunbar, 4th Countess of Moray), "that brawling boisterous Scottish wench" as an English balladeer had called her. In the Earl's absence, she held Dunbar castle for several months before succumbing to the overwhelming English army in 1337.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dunbar research. Another 347 words(25 lines of text) covering the years 1291, 1320, 1435, 1465, 1530, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Dunbar History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Dunbar Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Dunbar family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 149 words(11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Dunbar Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • William Dunbar, who settled in Virginia in 1650
  • Robert Dunbar, who arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts in 1655

Dunbar Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • John Dunbar, who arrived in Virginia in 1716
  • Hancock Dunbar, who landed in Virginia in 1725
  • David Dunbar, who landed in New England in 1729
  • Priscilla Dunbar, who came to Savannah, Georgia in 1734
  • Priscilla Dunbar, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1735

Dunbar Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Mathew Dunbar, who arrived in America in 1807
  • James Dunbar, who arrived in America in 1809
  • George Dunbar, who landed in Georgia in 1835
  • Mr. Dunbar, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • A J Dunbar, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851


  • Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar PH.D. (b. 1949), former NASA Astronaut with over 1,208 hours in space
  • Rockmond Dunbar (b. 1973), American actor
  • Helen Flanders Dunbar (1902-1959), important early figure in U.S. psychosomatic medicine and psychobiology
  • Dorothy Dunbar (1902-1992), American actress and socialite
  • Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906), African American poet, best known for his 1896 "Ode to Ethiopia"
  • Charles Edward Dunbar Jr. (1888-1959), American civil service reformer
  • Carl Owen Dunbar (1891-1979), American paleontologist, a specialist in invertebrate fossils, Professor of Geology at Yale University from 1920 until 1959
  • Helen Dunbar (1863-1933), American theatrical performer and silent film actress
  • Aynsley Thomas Dunbar (b. 1946), English drummer ranked by Rolling Stone as the twenty-seventh greatest drummer of all time
  • Adrian Dunbar (b. 1958), Northern Ireland actor, best known for his television and theatre work



  • Paul Laurence Dunbar's Roots and Much More: a Scrapbook of His Life and Legacy by Charles Marshall Austin.

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  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  6. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  7. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  8. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  9. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Dunbar Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Dunbar 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 6 September 2014 at 14:45.

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