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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Scottish


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."

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The surname Dunbar was 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.

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


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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.

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

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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.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Dunbar Settlers in 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 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 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


Dunbar Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. John Dunbarnget U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 6 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 20, 1783 at East River, New York
  • Mrs. Ann Dunbarnget U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 63 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 20, 1783 at East River, New York
  • Mr. George Dunbar U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. John Dunbar U.E. who settled in Charlotee County, New Brunswick c. 1784 he was part of the Port Matoon Association
  • Robt Dunbar, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1797


Dunbar Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • William Dunbar, aged 61, a carpenter, arrived in St. John aboard the ship "Protector" in 1834
  • Jane Dunbar, aged 4, landed in Quebec in 1835
  • Margaret Dunbar, aged 6, arrived in Quebec in 1835
  • Mary Dunbar, aged 40, landed in Quebec in 1835
  • Mary, Dunbar Jr., aged 30, arrived in Quebec in 1835


Dunbar Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James Dunbar arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Camoena" in 1843
  • Claudius Dunbar arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Abberton" in 1846
  • John Dunbar, aged 54, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1860 aboard the ship "Grand Trianon"
  • Anne Dunbar, aged 17, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1860 aboard the ship "Grand Trianon"
  • Elizabeth Dunbar, aged 13, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1860 aboard the ship "Grand Trianon"


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  • Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), African-American poet, novelist, and playwright
  • Jim Dunbar (b. 1929), American radio program director, talk show host and news anchor
  • Emmons Burdette Dunbar (1882-1954), American agriculturalist and college football coach
  • Bonita Sue "Bonnie" Dunbar (b. 1948), American former professor in the department of molecular and cell biology at Baylor University
  • William Dunbar (1750-1810), Scottish-born, American merchant, plantation owner, naturalist, astronomer and explorer
  • Dorothy Dunbar Lawson (1902-1992), American silent film actress of the 1920s and socialite
  • Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar PH.D. (b. 1949), American former NASA Astronaut with over 1,208 hours in space, former president and CEO of The Museum of Flight until April 2010
  • Helen Dunbar (1863-1933), American theatrical performer and silent film actress
  • Carl Owen Dunbar (1891-1979), American paleontologist, a specialist in invertebrate fossils, Professor of Geology at Yale University from 1920 until 1959
  • Charles Edward Dunbar Jr. (1888-1959), American civil service reformer

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  • Paul Laurence Dunbar's Roots and Much More: a Scrapbook of His Life and Legacy by Charles Marshall Austin.
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  1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  7. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  8. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  9. 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).
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. 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 13 April 2015 at 12:32.

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