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

The distinguished surname D'eath 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'eath family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D'Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. 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.

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." [1]

Early Origins of the D'eath family

The surname D'eath 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. [2]

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." [3]

Early History of the D'eath family

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

D'eath 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'eath family (pre 1700)

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 John along with his two Narborough stepsons died at sea in the Scilly naval disaster of 1707. His flagship, HMS Association, and three other ships were lost, claiming the lives of nearly 2,000 sailors. Knowlton Church has a memorial to...
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early D'eath Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States D'eath migration to the United States +

Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name D'eath or a variant listed above:

D'eath Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Elizabeth Death, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Miss Elizabeth Death, aged  3, from England who arrived in Virginia aboard the ship "America" arriving in June 1635 [4]
  • Miss Susan Death, aged 11, from England who arrived in Virginia aboard the ship "America" arriving in June 1635 [4]
  • Peter Death, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [4]
  • Rich Death, who landed in Virginia in 1641 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
D'eath Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Daniel Death, aged 27, who landed in America from Croydon, England, in 1904
  • Robert James Death, aged 27, who immigrated to America from Beaumaris, England, in 1904
  • Robert James Death, aged 29, who landed in America from Colchester, England, in 1905
  • James Death, aged 31, who settled in America from London, in 1906
  • Leslie Stephen Death, aged 18, who landed in America from London, England, in 1911
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia D'eath migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

D'eath Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Death, (b. 1812), aged 25, English baker who was convicted in London, England for life for house breaking, transported aboard the "Emma Eugenia" on 2nd November 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]

New Zealand D'eath migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

D'eath Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Death, who arrived in Canterbury aboard the ship "Hastings" in 1856
  • Diana Death, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ashburton" in 1857
  • J. Death, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wild Duck" in 1870

Contemporary Notables of the name D'eath (post 1700) +

  • Albert R. D'Eath, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State Senate 1st District, 1956 [6]
  • Stephen Victor "Steve" Death (1949-2003), English football goalkeeper
  • Wilfred De'Ath (1937-2020), British author and journalist who worked for the BBC as a radio producer in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Jason Death (b. 1971), Australian former rugby league footballer

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Arthur Henry Death (1866-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [7]

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 29th March 2022).
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 1) . Retrieved from
  7. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from on Facebook