Show ContentsD'aeth History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname D'aeth emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Flemish surnames of this type frequently are prefixed by de la or de le, which mean of the or from the. The D'aeth family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D'Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. [1] [2] [3]

It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Old English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder. [4]

Occupational names frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames.

"'Death' was a common character in the medieval mysteries or miracle plays: but this surname is probably derived from a local source." [5]

Early Origins of the D'aeth family

The surname D'aeth was first found in Kent at Knowlton and North Cray, where the family held lands since ancient times. However, earlier records of the family were found scattered through Britain including: Robert Deth who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire in 1196; Roger Deth, who was listed in Cheshire in 1221; and Gilbert Deth who was listed in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1272. [4]

This author postulates that while the Belgium origin is clearly possible, the name was scattered and accordingly could have also have been derived from the occupation, rather than just as a local surname.

"Properly D'Aeth, still an English name, and said to be from Aeth, in Flanders. This may refer to Ath, a fortified town of Belgium, prov. Hainault. The name D'ath is found in the U.S. There is a surgeon and also an undertaker named Death. "At the Liverpool Police-court, on Friday, the witnesses and solicitor in two cases bore the ominous names of Death, Debt, and Daggers" (Morning Star). One family of the name of H. E. Death, having an objection to the name, changed it to Edeath. The U.S. names Date and Datt and the English name Dates may be derived from Death, D'Aeth, or D'Ath." [2]

Early History of the D'aeth family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our D'aeth research. Another 73 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1678, 1707, 1708, 1745, 1750, 1773, 1808 and 1904 are included under the topic Early D'aeth History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

D'aeth Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Daeth, D'Aeth, D'Eath, Death, Darth, Dath and others.

Early Notables of the D'aeth family

Prominent in the family at this time was

  • Sir Thomas D'Aeth, 1st Baronet (1678-1745) of Knowlton in the County of Kent. He married Elizabeth Narborough, daughter of Rear-Admiral Sir John Narborough
  • Sir Thomas through marriage inherited the Narborough family seat of Knowlton Court. As with custom of the times, Narborough was used as a forename for his children: Sir Narborough D'Aeth, 2nd Baronet...

Migration of the D'aeth family

Study of Passenger and Immigration lists has revealed that among early immigrants bearing the D'aeth surname were: Elizabeth Death, who came to Virginia in 1635; Francis Death, who arrived in Virginia in 1651; Peter Death, who arrived in Virginia in 1637; as well as John George Dath who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1843..

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  3. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print. on Facebook