Show ContentsDark History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Dark was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Dark family lived in Kent. The family was originally from De Arques, from the Castle of Arques, near Dieppe. "William de Arcis, his son, in 1086 held estates from Odo of Bayeux and Lafranc in Kent, and in Suffolk from Bernard de StAudoen, and Robert Malet." [1]

Early Origins of the Dark family

The surname Dark was first found in Kent where William d'Arques was Lord of Folkestone in that shire, having been granted lands by William the Conqueror for his assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. William d'Arques was descended from the Vicomtes of Arques who held a castle four or five miles from Dieppe in Normandy.

"This name, which is not uncommon in the West of England, is probably identical with the De Arcis, of Domesday Book. William d'Arques, or de Arcis, was lord of Folkestone, co. Kent, temp. William I., having Bettled in England after the Norman Conquest. His ancestors were vicomtes of Arques, now a bourg and castle, four or five miles from Dieppe in Normandy." [2]

Scanning through other early rolls revealed Juelina de Arches in the Curia Regis Rolls for 1201 and William de Arches c. 1150. [3]

The parish of Melonsby in the North Riding of Yorkshire hold clues to an ancient origin there. "The Benedictine nunnery, was founded in the latter part of the reign of Stephen, or the earlier part of that of Henry II., by Roger D'Ark, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary." [4] Little is known of this branch of the family other that this entry and to date we can find no birth or death record for this individual.

Further to the north, "Hubert de Arches occurs in Scotland 1165-1214." [1] This entry is collaborated but with different dates, "Herbert de Arches witnessed a charter of the lands of Lesslyn (Leslie) to Malcolm filius Bartholf (c. 1171-1199.) Gilbertus de Arches witnessed confirmation of sale of the land of Scrogges to the church of Glasgow (c. 1208-1213.) Perhaps from Arques near Dieppe." [5]

Early History of the Dark family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dark research. Another 164 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1141, 1221 and 1229 are included under the topic Early Dark History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dark Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Dark, Darke, Darque and others.

Early Notables of the Dark family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Dark Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dark Ranking

In the United States, the name Dark is the 9,044th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [6]

United States Dark migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Dark or a variant listed above:

Dark Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Dark, who arrived in Virginia in 1639 [7]
  • William Dark, who landed in Maryland in 1668 [7]
  • William Dark, aged 58, his wife Alice, and sons, John and Samuel, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1680
  • Samuel Dark, who arrived in New Jersey in 1680 [7]
  • Alice Dark, aged 63, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1684 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Dark migration to Australia +

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

Dark Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Dark, (b. 1791), aged 39, English butcher who was convicted in Wiltshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Clyde" on 20th August 1830, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • Mr. William Dark, English convict who was convicted in Worcestershire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Florentia" on 11th August 1830, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. Samuel Dark, (b. 1871), aged 20, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Jumna" arriving in Queensland, Australia on 20th July 1891 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Dark (post 1700) +

  • Gregory Dark (b. 1957), American film director, film producer, music video director, and screenwriter
  • Alvin Ralph Dark (b. 1922), American former shortstop and manager in Major League baseball
  • Pearl O. Dark, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Boonville, Indiana, 1936 [11]
  • Lawrence A. Dark, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Kent County 1st District, 1960; C [11]
  • Joe P. Dark, American politician, Mayor of Sylacauga, Alabama, 1959-64, 1968-72; Resigned 1972 [11]
  • G. O. Dark, American politician, Delegate to Alabama convention to ratify 21st amendment from Tallapoosa County, 1933 [11]
  • Alfred James Dark (1893-1964), English former footballer
  • Eleanor Dark (b. 1901), Australian novelist

  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. 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)
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 19th February 2021). Retrieved from
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th October 2022).
  10. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  11. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from on Facebook